Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
choosing a writing support
making quires and sheets
preparing the page
copying the text
correcting the text
decorating the book
binding the book
using the book
> Binding the Book > Boards


Medieval manuscripts, even small ones, can be surprisingly heavy. Giant Bibles, large volumes
that can stand half a meter tall, weigh as much
as twenty-five kilos. It requires two library staff
members to carry the object to your table.
Much of this weight is produced by the boards
of the bookbinding. To protect the stack of
quires that made up the actual manuscript,
a wooden board was placed on the front and
back. The quires were then tied to thin leather
straps, which were pushed through channels
drilled through the boards. The straps were
pegged into the wood, as seen here (note
the white straps). It produced a surprisingly
firm binding, which lasted for centuries. All
this crafty woodwork is presently hidden
from our eyes because the boards were
subsequently covered with leather (which
was often fitted with decoration). Thousands
of pieces of medieval trees are hidden inside
book bindings, like a shelved mini forest.