Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Coptic bindings

Bindings produced by the Copts, or Egyptian Christians. The Coptic style of sewing is not unlike that of present-day machine edition sewing, in that it is also in the form of chain stitch linkings appearing as so many braids across the spine of the book. In addition, the covers of Coptic bindings were frequently sewn or laced to the text block by a number of hinging loops. Some Coptic bindings had wooden boards (from about the 4th century to the Middle Ages), but the majority had boards built up by layers of waste papyrus. They also had lined spines with flanges, as well as headbands. They were covered in leather as early as the 4th century and were tooled in blind, or by blind blocking. although decoration with inked and painted ornaments, as well as cut-out openwork backed with pieces of painted or gilded parchment were also used. Decoration consisting of openwork with parchment backing was executed before the leather (which was already cut to size) was attached. as was blind tooling or stamping when the fragile papyrus boards were employed. The tooling was in all likelihood done with unheated tools on moistened leather. Coptic bindings make up the oldest surviving "family" of leather bookbindings, and represent the ultimate source of all decorated leather bindings. (104 , 158 , 236 , 347 )

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