Coverings for writing have been in existence for almost as long as writing itself. The earliest printed books were issued by their printers in unbound sheets; those who purchased them arranged to have the sheets bound according to their individual tastes. By the 1500s, this fine binders’ craft, referred to as "finishing" leather covers, involved skillful tooling and gilding, lettering, and embellishing of both the outside and inside covers. The books became secondary to their bindings. The Smythe Sewn Fanfare journal in this collection of fine bindings was commissioned by French book collectors and bibliophiles during the 16th century, and this one is reproduced from the remarkable book collection of the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
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