Unfinished Business: Incomplete Bindings Made for the Book Trade from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
4:00 pm PDT

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a lecture by Nicholas Pickwoad, University of the Arts London

co-sponsored by the Huntington Library, UCLA Library Special Collections, and
UCLA Department of Information Studies, with support from the Breslauer Chair Fund


It has long been assumed that most books in the era of the handpress were sold in unbound sheets. Today this assumption is being challenged by the suggestion that many, if not most, books were sold bound. The survival, however, of significant numbers of books as sewn book blocks without covers and with or without boards offers another possibility, which is that the book trade offered books for sale either within the trade or to their customers in an incomplete state, but ready to be completed whenever that may have been required. This lecture looks at the surviving examples, the evidence for the practice and its implications for the history of bookbinding.

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad trained in bookbinding and book conservation with Roger Powell, and ran his own workshop from 1977 to 1989. He has been an adviser on book conservation to the National Trust since 1978. He was chief conservator in the Harvard University Library from 1992 to 1995 and is now project leader of the St Catherine’s Monastery Library Project based at the University of the Arts London, where he is director of the Ligatus Research Centre, which is dedicated to the history of bookbinding.