Items of furniture which can be either protective or decorative (or both) found in the centre of a board. Centres are most often made of metal, typically copper alloy, but they will also be found made of iron as well as silver and silver-gilt and may be enamelled oven decorated with gemstones, and will often be of the same design as the corner pieces. Metal centres can be decorated with punches, engraving, embossing, piercing, etc., and may be square, lozenge-shaped, circular, oval, etc. Centres were used from the middle-ages onwards, but increasingly from the end of the sixteenth century, their function becomes more decorative and status-related. Some centres incorporate bosses which may be either hammered out of the centre piece itself (integral bosses) or as separate added components (separate bosses). If simple bosses without any form of decorative surround and of the same design as those found in the corners of the boards are also found in the centres of the boards, they should be described as centre bosses and not as centres.
Coloured parchment or paper placed under a pierced metal fitting.
Sheets of metal other than corner pieces, combined corners or bosses which may cover a large area of or, indeed, whole boards and where they reach the head-, tail- or fore-edges of the boards will be folded over the edges of the boards as well. Where they fit within the limits of the boards, they may be of any shape (square, rectangular, circular, oval, etc., or other, irregular shapes). Such plates will usually have a decorative purpose, and were often used to confer status to liturgical works. In this context they are usually included in the category of treasure bindings. Frequently made of silver or silver gilt, they could be elaborately decorated with engraving, punching, embossing, enamel, repoussé, etc. Smaller metal plates in the form of votive offerings are also sometimes found nailed to the boards of books, particularly on Armenian bindings.
Hardware, most often of metal but including wood and bone, attached to a binding, usually with a protective, but also often decorative, function. The most common types of furniture are bosses, and corner-pieces, but title frames, rubbing strips, shoes and studs are also found. The use of furniture was at its height in the fifteenth century, and reduces rapidly in the sixteenth century, becoming more and more associated with books with a public or religious function.
Protective and often decorative fittings usually made of metal attached to the corners of a board either on the surface only (surface fitting) or, more commonly folded around one or both edges at the corners (edge fitting). Most often made of copper alloy, they will also be found made of iron as well as silver and silver-gilt, and will often be of the same design as the centre pieces. They can be decorated with punches, engraving, embossing, piercing, etc., and were made in a wide variety of shapes. Corners were used from the later middle-ages onwards, but increasingly, from the end of the sixteenth century, their function becomes more decorative and status-related. Some corners incorporate bosses which may be either hammered out of the corner itself (integral bosses) or as separate added components (separate bosses).
Narrow, flat, metal strips, usually of copper alloy, nailed to the edges of boards to protect the covering material from wear during handling. Often found only on the tail edges of boards, they are also found bent round the outer corners of the boards (corner shoes) to protect the vulnerable tips of the corners. Shoes may also be fitted with studs (e.g. ‘shoe with stud’ or ‘corner shoe with stud’).
Pieces of metal furniture which sit on the surface of the board and do not fold over their edges.
Pieces of metal furniture which are folded over the edge of a board and may sometimes also be folded over onto the inside of the board.
Leather decorated with gold leaf and also usually silver leaf and colouring, and frequently embossed. Used primarily as a covering for walls and furniture, it is occasionally found on books.
Roberts, Matt, Don Etherington, and Margaret R. Brown. 1982. Bookbinding and the conservation of books: a dictionary of descriptive terminology. Washington: Library of Congress.
Leather completely covered with gold leaf. This type of leather was possibly made for domestic use on furniture or as wall hangings, but would occasionally be found on books.