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Cambridge Bookbindings : A blind-tooled Cambridge binding with the IW tool, ca.1685

Megerlin, Peter.

Cambridge Bookbindings

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>A straightforward binding of standard late seventeenth-century design, which uses a distinctive fleuron at the corners of the frame. Binding tools incorporating initials were quite common in the early decades of the sixteenth century, and some of the rolls and stamps used in the workshops of Garret Godfrey and Nicholas Spierinck featured the initials GG or NS. After that, the idea fell out of use and it is very unusual to find lettering in tools which are purely decorative, without being linked to an ownership marking. The shape of this fleuron is perfectly ordinary for its time, and others very like it were used here and elsewhere, but it includes the letters I W within the design.</p><p>We do not know what the letters stand for; it’s a mystery. There are no contemporary Cambridge binders or booksellers who can be linked with these initials; other tools with which it is sometimes found suggest that it may have been used in Thomas Dawson’s workshop (see <a href='/view/PR-BURY-00026-00009'>Bury.26.9</a>), but it can also be linked with other binders. There are hundreds of examples to be found – it was extensively used in Cambridge, particularly between about 1680 and 1705, with occasional later instances down to about 1730. Unlike some other fleurons like this, it has so far only been found blind-stamped on relatively simple bindings like this one, and was not incorporated in more elaborate gilt-stamped patterns.</p><p>Pasteboards, covered with mid-brown calfskin, blind-tooled. Simply blind-tooled spine, with no spine label; narrow gilt roll round board edges; red sprinkled leaf edges; plain paper flyleaves and pastedowns.</p><p>Dr David Pearson</p></p>

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