01 December 2012

The Oldest English Binding in New Zealand

The oldest English binding in New Zealand has been identified by Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago, and reported in the Otago Daily Times. The binding by Rood and Hunt, Oxford, dates to 1482, and covers a volume of Nicholas de Lyra's commentary on the Bible printed in Venice by Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt the previous year. At some point in its history, much of the binding's spine and spine edge were damaged and replaced.

The book is also notable for another reason: the fragments of indulgences printed by William Caxton (Westminster, after 9 August 1480) and John Lettou (London, after 1480), which were used as sewing guards. These were identified by Christopher de Hamel, who first reported his findings to the Oxford Bibliographical Society in 1982 and included them as part of his 2009 Lyell Lectures.

Courtesy of Special Collections,
University of Otago

The book (and many others) will be on display in the exhibition 'From Pigskin to Paper: The Art and Craft of  Bookbinding', Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, University of Otago, scheduled to open on 20 December.

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