The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course.
London - with its long history of book production, its role as one of the world’s major publishing centres, its famous libraries, museums, archives, and antiquarian bookshops - is the ideal place in which to study the history of the book. And the London Rare Books School (LRBS) is one of the world’s leading institutions in this field. In June and July 2016 London Rare Books Schools once again offers a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects to be taught in and around Senate House which is the centre of the University of London's federal system.
The courses are taught by internationally renowned scholars, including the ILAB affiliates and ABA members Angus O’Neill and Laurence Worms, using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Senate House Libraries, and many more. Each course consists of thirteen seminars amounting in all to twenty hours of teaching time spread between Monday lunchtime and Friday afternoon. In small groups of no more than 12 participants, the students have plenty of opportunity to talk to the teachers and to get very close to the books. All courses stress the materiality of the book, so students will have close encounters with remarkable books and manuscripts and other artefacts from some of the world's greatest collections. There will also be timetabled 'library time' that will allow students to explore the rich resources of the University's Senate House Library, one of the UK's major research libraries.