Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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panel stamp bindings

A method of decorating leather bindings by means of panel stamps. Throughout the middle ages the normal method of decorating a book was by means of repeated impressions of variously arranged small stamps. The great increase in book production near the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, however, led to various methods of reducing the labor involved in bookbinding, of which the panel stamp was one. The large stamp required the use of a press because the pressure required was considerable, particularly for the octavo and folio size stamps. The earliest stamps were employed in the Netherlands, and Flemish binders continued to use finely designed and engraved stamps well into the 16th century. The French began using the technique near the end of the 15th century, when, in Paris and Normandy, they began producing bindings of great beauty, often pictorial in design. Panel stamped bindings were not produced in England to any great extent until near the end of t he 15th century.

Virtually all panel stamp bindings produced in England were calfskin, which, of all leathers, best produces the details of the engraving, mainly because of its fine, smooth-grained surface. The panel stamp binding declined in popularity in England after 1550 until revived in the 1820s when stamps were used to emboss bindings. These were usually small books, covered in roan or morocco of a dark color, blocked in blind, and usually with gilt edges. The lettering on the spine was in gilt. The covers were often embossed in huge fly-embossing presses before covering. The impressions made by the blocks on the dark leather were striking in their effect, particularly so because they were in blind. This type of binding appears to have been popular for about 20 years, although blind blocking continued into the 1850s. (141 , 236 , 347 )

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