Bindings in which a cover in the form of a case is attached to a sewn or stitched bookblock by lacing the slips of the sewing supports and/or endband cores or the secondary stitching thongs through the joints of the case. The slips are therefore visible on the outside of the cover along the joints, unless hidden by a secondary cover. Laced-case limp bindings were in use in Italy and France in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, but are found in every country of Europe in a myriad of different variations throughout the sixteenth century. In northern Europe laced-case limp bindings are rarely found after the middle of the seventeenth century, but their use continued for longer in the same century in Italy and until the early nineteenth century in Spain. Laced-case bindings with boards continued to be made throughout Europe until the nineteenth century.
Tackets in the form of lengths of parchment, alum-tawed or tanned skin or thin cord that are used to attach cases of parchment or cartonnage to a sewn bookblock. This was most often done by lacing the tackets through or round the sewing supports and through the cover or, in unsupported sewing structures, around the sewing thread, at one or more of the sewing stations. Very occasionally, secondary tackets can be laced through gatherings alone without involving any part of the sewing structure. Secondary tackets, executed in a wide variety of different ways, were a common feature of medieval stationery bindings, and used from the late fifteenth century up to the third quarter of the sixteenth century by the printed book trade as an inexpensive but effective means of giving either temporary or permanent protection to printed bookblocks. They were commonly used in Italy, Germany and the Low Countries, and a small number of English examples has been identified. In Italy, they may be reinforced by the use of endband tackets.
Flat tapered wooden plugs with angled edges on each side pushed into tapering dovetail recesses cut into the outer surfaces of wooden boards at right angles to their spine edges. The frayed-out slips of the cord sewing supports (always, it would appear, paired single supports) were adhered to the bottom of the recesses before the horizontal wooden plugs, cut to fit exactly into the tapering recesses, were slid over over the slips to hold them in place. The outer ends ofthe plugs were then carved to match the shape of the paired single supports. The technique appears to have been used only in Bavaria, in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, though why anyone would do something so time-consuming it is hard to imagine, but many examples survive. This technique cannot be seen in books in good condition, as the attachment does not appear on the insides of the boards, but it can often be identified by the very sharp and deep moulding of the covering skin over the carved ends of the horizontal plugs.
In the medieval period and, in archival bindings, well into the seventeenth century or longer, bookblocks could be held together with tackets, which were short lengths of material such as cord, thread, parchment, tawed skin or tanned skin, or even paper, taken through holes in the spine folds of the gatherings. These should be known as primary tackets to distinguish them from other types of tacket. These tackets could also be taken through a cover, either in single- or multi-gathering books, where they might also have been taken through pierced sewing supports, but because they still perform the function of holding the leaves together as well as attaching a cover, they should still be called primary tackets. Where a cover is attached to a previously- and independently-sewn bookblock by tackets, the tackets should be called secondary tackets. The simplicity and speed of execution of primary tacketing made it useful as a provisional structure, used perhaps to hold gatherings together during the writing and assembly of hand-written manuscripts (see quire tackets), prior to binding the gatherings together in a more complex structure. It is, however, often difficult to know whether a simple, inexpensive structure was intended to be provisional or permanent, and the term 'provisional' should therefore only be used where there is additional evidence to indicate its temporary status.
Primary board attachment describes the means by which the boards of a book are attached directly to a textblock or bookblock before the book is covered. The methods used include sewn, slip, endleaf and spine lining attachments, and they may be used singly or in combination with each other. It does not describe the use of boards within laced-case or cased constructions. In many books, the joints of the spine linings or elements of the endleaves will be adhered to the inside of the boards after covering, by which process they will reinforce board attachment, but do not constitute the primary board attachment. They will only do so if adhered to the boards before the book is covered. In addition, the covering material itself will also reinforce board attachment, but rarely, if ever, constitutes the primary board attachment. Sewing support slips, endband core slips and stitched support slips constitute the most often-used method of attaching boards in most western European countries, and there is a considerable variety in how they were used. These variations can often indicate a provenance for a binding, and even in some cases identify an individual workshop or binder. The same is true of the other methods of primary board attachment, which include the sewn board attachment typical of Greek-style bindings, spine-lining attachment and endleaf attachment. Combinations of any or all of these methods of primary board attachment will also be found.
The sewing, often purely decorative, which wraps around a sewn endband core but which is not tied down into the bookblock. Secondary endband sewing therefore has little or no structural function, but in some medieval and the early sixteenth-century bindings, it could also be used to secure the covering material on the spine of the book to the sewn endbands, and thus ensure that it did not arch away from the spine of the bookblock when the book was opened, an especially important function in non-adhesive bindings. Secondary sewing could be very elaborate, worked in silk (perceived as a less durable material and seldom used for primary sewing until the seventeenth century), and include crowning cores, gold and silver threads and elaborate plaiting in coloured tanned or alum-tawed skin. The working in thread of worked stuck-on endbands should also be described as secondary sewing, for although there is no primary sewing, the endband is attached to the bookblock by adhesive, and the working in thread, which does not penetrate the text gatherings, is exactly the same as the secondary sewing on a worked endband. Some of the single sewing supports, or Kapitalbünde, found at the head and tail of the spines of some late fifteenth and early sixteenth-century German bindings were also given a decorative secondary sewing, which has sometimes led to their being described, wrongly, as endbands. In some Greek-style bindings, the decoration of the primary endband was carried out in two stages - a secondary sewing which consists often of a helix of thread wound around the primary endband, which then serves as the foundation for a decorative tertiary sewing.
There are two types of cover which may typically be found on a book, primary and secondary. The primary cover is the material that constitutes the immediate covering of the completed binding, but not including additional, secondary, covers such as chemises or decorated paper over a plain primary cover. For inboard bindings, the primary covering material is used to cover the boards and spine, either completely, as in full bindings, or partially, as in half and quarter bindings. In all case bindings, and bindings with external sewing supports and longstitch bindings, the case itself may also be the covering material, and thus serve a dual function as both primary covering (which therefore may be given a secondary, decorated cover) and structural component. A secondary cover can be added in addition to a primary cover (but cannot be a secondary cover unless there is a primary cover already in place), either as protection or further embellishment of the book. In the latter case they are often made from decorated materials (most often textile or paper), but purely protective secondary covers can be made made from plain materials such as tanned or alum-tawed skins or paper, or recycled paper or parchment. They may be contemporary with and part of a complete binding, or may have been added afterwards (sometimes many years afterwards) to suit the taste and needs of a later owner. Many bindings with primary covers in parchment also have a lining of white paper under the parchment, intended both to brighten the parchment and make it opaque and also to soften the parchment with the moisture from the adhesive used to stick together so that it could be moulded around the book. Such linings on Dutch laced-case bindings with boards were adhered to the fleshside of the parchment before the book was covered, and could not be described as primary covers, but linings on Dutch inboard bindings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were usually adhered to the book before the parchment was adhered around it. Such lining could therefore be thought of as primary covers, but their intended use as a lining and the fact that they would never have been left as covers in themselves means that they should always be thought of as a lining of the primary cover and not as an actual primary cover. Some bindings with embroidered covers may have similar linings.