The remarkable history of a prize binding
By Jurjen Munk, MA Conservation Studies student specialising in Books and Library Materials
As part of our book conservation programme at West Dean College, we conducted a preservation survey in the Old Library of West Dean. Besides assessing the condition of the books, we were given the opportunity to select a book for further research. With this in mind, I was drawn to a small book called Pictura loquens; sive heroicarum tabularum Hadriani Schoonebeeck, Enaratio et explicatio. [in English: Speaking pictures; or on heroic images, an exposition and explanation by Adriaan Schoonebeeck], by Ludolph Smids and published in Amsterdam in 1695. I was intrigued by the appearance of the volume, rather than by the author or the contents. The binding, so it turned out, entails remarkable details that lead us from a small local Latin school in Gouda, to Tsar Peter the Great, as well as to the well-known art and book collection of the Beckford family.