A Gothic endband from Chichester Cathedral Library – Part 1: An unusual feature
By Lena Krämer, MA Conservation Studies: Books and Library Materials
As part of our course, our subject leader Mariluz took the MA books students to Chichester Cathedral to look at some of the marvellous bindings kept in the library. Throughout the visit, we not only saw a great range of binding structures, but also examined some bindings in detail and exercised our bibliographical description skills. Being able to understand and describe bindings just from looking at them is a vital skill for conservators, because this allows us to make treatment decisions that are tailored to the individual item, and to accurately document the changes we may make to the object.
One of the books we discussed during our visit was a Gothic binding covered in alum tawed skin stained a bright pink. This binding was an eyecatcher, even despite its very apparent areas of damage (Figure 1). We had already spent some time examining different elements of the binding when I noticed something odd about the endbands. At first, I could not quite explain what it was, and perhaps it was simply the extent of damage that drew my attention there. The more I looked at them, the more the endbands confused me, and the less was I able to understand how they could have been made.