Plate X A
JOH. NIEDER (ord. Pred.) Preceptorium divine
legis venerabilis fr. . . Nurnberg 1496.
Marburg XIX c A 559d (liber St. Stephani et Viti in Corbeja).
The first and last leaves are wanting, but the old lettering on the back with oil-colour, “Nieder”, is still preserved.
Binding: Oak boards slightly bevelled all round, 235, 165, 5o mm., covered with bright, unpolished calf leather. No mounts except the clasps of unusual, pleasing form (the hooks are missing).
Sewing: 3 double cords and kettle-stitch. The headband, which has long since been torn off, was fastened to the boards and attached externally to the kettle-stitch by a thin thread at about every third sheet.
Decoration : on the front side as shown. The application of the scroll tool to form the pointed frieze with the addition of small rosettes to the points forms an original and effective design , which might even now be adopted with success. The back cover shows a simpler design ; the border is the same, but the centre piece is crossed by simple diagonals. The longitu- dinal spaces of the border are impressed with the owl, the corners and cross spaces with a piece of foliated frieze.
Plate X B
The volume contains the following:
1)Textus sequentiarum . . . Coin (Quentel) 1506.
2) Expositio hymnorum . . . eod. — do.
3) Guilhermi de Aquisgrano de pass. chr. s. 1. et a. Fulda I u B 58.
Binding: Thin pasteboard covered with light, polished calf. 200, 140, 30 mm.
Sewing: 4 double cords with kettle-stitch. Headband: a cord fastened into the board and covered with blue – white thread, which is carried round every third sheet. Edges bluish-green.
The decoration is the same on both sides. The arched frieze has been done with a roll. It is a development of the older pointed arch frieze which some binders continued to use till late in the 16th century; a little volume, Marburg, XIX a. C. 122 of the year 1540, for instance, has a frieze of this kind, which was impressed from single tools. From such patterns were eventually developed the infinite varieties of the arch frieze of the renaissance (cf., for example, Plate II). The roll now before us is one of the earliest which occur.
A still older one with a Gothic foliated beading occurs on a volume of the year 1504 (Lyons, Davost), Marburg c. C. 1258. Mention may also be made of a volume from Cologne (Quentel) 1512 (Marburg XIX.e A 221, cf. Catel. d. Einb. d. Germ. Arm. No. 192) with friezes of hunting subjects and birds tooled from a roll. I have seen these oldest rolls so frequently on the Cologne bindings of Quentel’s that I am disposed to attribute the introduction of them to this publisher, whose extensive trade may very well have led him to hit upon this facilitation of work, and he had both designers and tool cutters in his service.
The metal blocks, such as were used for stamping the Annunciation in this photograph, also seem to me to point to Cologne. The technique of punching was well known in Cologne, at any rate from the beginning of the 12th century, and numerous tool cutters were employed in producing the stamps and molds required for all possible branches of industrial art. It was evidently a custom of these artists to multiply the copies of a pattern in order to supply the trade rapidly and cheaply. This affords an easy explanation of the mysterious way in which impressions from identical blocks appear everywhere on bindings that in other respects show obvious traces of local influence. The importance of the purchases of tools and material at the fairs is, as a rule,not sufficiently appreciated.
As shown by the fine casts of natural leaves on large bells and by types, the simple cast was sufficient for the multiplication of copies of patterns and stamps in bronze and hardened lead type-metal. The old handicraftsmen were fully alive to their own interests, and doubtless took good care not to use chisel and graver in the sweat of their brow to produce what they could get without trouble or difficulty with hwax molds and casts.
It is obvious that in small workshops, where the modern blocking press was unknown, the blind-tooling stamps of type metal lasted well for impressions on soft leather and soft pasteboard. The inscription was unquestionably impressed with ordinary types. In point of fact the most important feature of Gutenberg’s invention was the discovery of a hard, easily fusible alloy, which would render all the fine details.