Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

BIOGRAPHICA ET BIBLIOGRAPHICA BOOKBINDINGS IN THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF WALES 3. A late medieval velvet binding Peniarth 481 D is a volume comprising three manuscript works on parchment: 1. Disticha Catonis, with the English paraphrase, in rhyme royal, of Benedict Burgh. 2. Historia Alexandri magni Regis Macedonie. 3. John of Hildesheim: Historia sanctorum trium Regum. The first two works are in a late 15th century English hand and contain miniatures in a Flemish style. The third work is also of the 15th century, written and illuminated in a style associated with Cologne, with beautifully decorated and gilded initials. The volume was bound, probably in England, in wooden boards covered with crimson velvet. There are five brass bosses on each cover and there were brass corner-pieces, though the fore-edge corner-pieces of the upper cover are now missing. Pins and fastenings for thongs survive but the actual thongs have disappeared. The edges are gilded and there are parch- ment pastedowns. The headband and tailband are laced in. The spine is padded with waste from a 13th century manuscript and it has four raised double bands. The second com- partment has a strip of leather affixed by firmly-nailed brass strips and there are traces of a similar strip on the fourth compartment. Possibly these raised leather-pieces were designed to protect the bands. On the lower cover is a vellum label, covered in horn in a brass rectangular frame, inscribed in a bastard secretary hand 'Catons versis i Inglishe & the stories of Alexander & of ye iii kings of Colon i latinge writyn on pchmet & illuned'. On both covers the initials MC are indistinctly stamped four times. Silk and velvet bindings were popular for books intended for private use from the 13th century onwards. Their popularity waned with the advent of the more durable leathers of the 15th and 16th centuries but even Queen Elizabeth I preferred velvet for her own books. Textile