The art of fastening together sheets of paper, leaves of parchment, or folios, and of covering them with parchment, leather, linen, or paste-boards. It was originally practised by the writer of the book. When books were written on scrolls, these were joined together by bands and protected from dust by mantles (see Scroll of the Law). The earliest extant book-covers—those of the Cairo Genizah—are of parchment on both sides, long enough to overlap each other. The back ends in a point, a kind of three-cornered flap, to which ribbons or straps are sewed to tie the volume together. Such bindings are still largely used among the Jews of Yemen. Another kind of binding with overlapping parchment or leather was intended to protect the free edge, and on it the name of the book or the titles of parts of it were often marked. The stitching-thread often goes entirely through the book, making it difficult to open.

After the invention of printing rich owners frequently ornamented Bibles and prayer-books with clasps and mountings of gold and silver, this being especially the case with the prayer-books given by the bridegroom to the bride. To-day the book takes the place of the medieval Siblonos-girdle, presented by the bride to the bridegroom. Pressed leather bindings are often decorated with flowers and garlands. The entire issue of a book is usually in the same binding, but occasionally it is issued in two different kinds of binding, as in the case of Simon Duran's Responsa, Amsterdam, 1738. Clasps of precious metal are found, often finely chased, and in the shape of a hand or representing the figures of Moses and Aaron. Bindings entirely of silver, intended as gifts for eminent persons, were used chiefly in Italy. Jewish binders were to be found at Prague and in almost every ghetto.

Silver Binding of a Hebrew Prayer-Book.(In the collection of J. Kauffmann of Frankfort-on-the-Main.)
  • Steinschneider, Vorlesungen über die Kunde Hebr. Handschriften, deren Sammlungen und Verzeichnisse, p. 33, Leipsic, 1897.
J. A. F.
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