English Embroidered Bookbindings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 110 pages of information about English Embroidered Bookbindings.

The five panels of the back, indicated with silver cord, are each filled with a different design.  Beginning at the top, these are:  a rose, a parrot with a red fruit, a double rose, a lion, and a lily.  The edges are plainly gilt.



It seems probable that velvet was a favourite covering for royal books in England from an early period.  Such volumes as remain ’covered in vellat’ that belonged to Henry VII. are, however, not embroidered, the ornamentation upon them being worked metal, or enamels upon metal.  It is not until the time of Henry VIII. that we have any instances remaining of books bound in embroidered velvet.

Velvet is very troublesome to work upon, the pile preventing any delicate embroidery being done directly upon it, hence the prevalence of gold cords and applique work on canvas or linen, on which of course the embroidery may be executed as delicately as may be desired.

Tres ample description de toute la terre Saincte, etc. [By Martin de Brion.] MS. of the sixteenth century, probably bound about 1540.

[Illustration:  15—­Tres ample description de toute la terre Saincte, etc.  MS. 1540.]

The earliest extant English binding in embroidered velvet covers this manuscript, which belonged to Henry VIII., and is dedicated to him.  The manuscript is on vellum, and is beautifully illuminated.  It is bound in rich purple velvet, and each side, measuring 9 by 6 inches, is ornamented with the same design.  In the centre is a large royal coat-of-arms, surrounded by the garter, and ensigned with a royal crown.  The coat-of-arms and the garter are first worked in thick silks of the proper colours, red and blue, laid or couched, with small stitches of silk of the same colour, arranged so as to make a diamond pattern, on fine linen or canvas.  On the coat are the arms of France and England quarterly; the bearings, respectively three fleur-de-lys and three lions, are solidly worked in gold cord, and the whole is applique on to the velvet with strong stitches.  On the blue garter the legend ’Honi soit qui mal y pense’ is outlined in gold cord, between each word being a small red rose, the buckle, end, and edge of the garter being marked also in gold cord, and the whole applique like the coat.  The very decorative royal crown is solidly worked in gold cords of varying thickness directly on to the velvet.  The rim or circlet has five square jewels of red and blue silk along it, between each of these being two seed pearls.  From the rim rise four crosses-patee and four fleurs-de-lys, at the base of each of which is a pearl, and also one in each inner corner of the crosses-patee.  Four arches also rise from the rim, the two outer ones each having three small scrolls with a pearl in the middle; at the top is a mound and cross-patee, with a pearl in each of its inner corners.  There is a letter H on each side of the coat-of-arms, and these letters were originally doubtless worked with seed pearls, but the outlines of them alone are now left.  In each corner is a red Lancastrian rose worked on a piece of satin, applique, the centres and petals marked in gold cord, and the whole enclosed in an outer double border of gold cord.  On the front edges of each side are the remains of two red silk ties.

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English Embroidered Bookbindings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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