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Subject: Human skin bindings

Human skin bindings

From: Mark Clarke <mark>
Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Drew Bourn <andrew.bourn [at] simmons__edu> writes

>We have in our collection a 1597 French print of Ovid's
>Metamorphoses that is bound in human skin.
>Without meaning to sound too grisly, I would be interested in
>knowing whether such items should be treated the same as (other)
>leather bindings, or if there are special considerations for this
>type of material.

I looked through the ExLibris list, and found Walter Henry's
bibliography on this here:

         Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1992 14:17:35 PST
         Message-id: <"VdfEp2.0.N97.7NBCn"@sul2>

Some years back I was confronted with a book which we had reason to
suspect might be bound in human skin, but short of taking samples
(or perhaps, in retrospect, taking it to a dermatologist) we weren't
sure how to identify it. In this case it seemed to be leather not
parchment (I infer from the postings on ExLibris that both
treatments of human skin have been found). My question is: short of
taking samples, are there any obvious signs, or maybe obvious with a
simple lens or microscope?

Dr Mark Clarke
Hamilton Kerr Institute (Fitzwilliam Museum)
University of Cambridge
Whittlesford, Cambridge CB2 4NE, England
+44 1223 832040
Fax: +44 1223 837595

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:8
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 2, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-8-003
Received on Tuesday, 1 August, 2006

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