<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>Much European binding work of the last few decades of the sixteenth century was dominated, decoratively, by the use of centrepiece tools – large single stamps, often oval or roughly lozenge-shaped, incorporating elaborate interlaced, symmetrical designs. Their ornamental inspiration came originally from the Islamic world, which was a major influence on European binding work in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.</p><p>This is one of the first such centrepiece tools to have been used in Cambridge, applied here to a set of manuscript verses written up for presentation to Queen Elizabeth I during a visit to Cambridge in 1564. It is applied in gilt, not blind; gilt-tooling of bindings, achieved by applying a very thin layer of gold leaf between the heated tool and the binding surface, was also originally an Islamic technique. It was first practised in Cambridge in the 1540s, about twenty years after it began to be experimented with by London binders.</p><p>Limp parchment laced-case binding, gilt-tooled with a centrepiece and lettering. The book has had some repair, with new parchment sewing supports, and endbands; original plain paper endleaves.</p><p>Dr David Pearson</p></p>
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