Item #4305 Pierced parchment binding with metallic backing, on: KÖSTLIN, Cosmann Friderich (1711-1790). Kirchen Gesangbuch, begreifend vierhundert so wol alte als neue Lieder. Cosmann Friderich PARCHMENT CUT-OUT BINDING — KÖSTLIN.
Pierced parchment binding with metallic backing, on: KÖSTLIN, Cosmann Friderich (1711-1790). Kirchen Gesangbuch, begreifend vierhundert so wol alte als neue Lieder.
Pierced parchment binding with metallic backing, on: KÖSTLIN, Cosmann Friderich (1711-1790). Kirchen Gesangbuch, begreifend vierhundert so wol alte als neue Lieder.
Pierced vellum with a twist

Pierced parchment binding with metallic backing, on: KÖSTLIN, Cosmann Friderich (1711-1790). Kirchen Gesangbuch, begreifend vierhundert so wol alte als neue Lieder. Esslingen: Gottlieb Mäntler, 1763.

8vo (binding size 174 x 106 mm). 624, [16] pp., woodcut head- and tail-pieces (foxed and spotted, pp. 138-139 soiled and torn). Bound in contemporary parchment over boards, covers cut out to an interlace pattern, with a stylized six-pointed star at center and small tear-drop shaped cut-outs, all revealing a copper backing, covers and spine turned largely green from oxidation of the copper (verdigris), the interstices of both covers identically tooled and stamped in a silver alloy (Zwischgold) with a pair of facing angels, two impressions of the tree of the Garden of Eden (enwrapped by the snake), two classical busts, birds, blossoms, and floral pointillé tooling, spine with cut-out flower blossoms and ornamental tooling, holes for an apparently later fore-edge clasp, gilt edges, later marbled endpapers (the silver-gilt oxidized, a few strips of the copper backing lost, chipping to an ornament on lower cover, joints and extremities rubbed, skillful repair to front joint). Provenance: inscribed on front flyleaf, “Rosina Honoldin von meinem Lieben Verstorbenen Grosse papa zu Confirmation Esslingen Decb 1796” (a confirmation gift from her beloved late Grandpa); monogrammed initials at end of imprint, AEM.***

An unusual and once spectacular presentation binding on a popular church psalter. Tooled in silver-gilt and decorated with cut-outs backed in a bright copper, it is a late example of the kind of pierced “vellum” binding that was popular in late 16th and early 17th-century Germany (cf. Foot, p. 77). The unusual use of copper backing evokes the slightly later vogue, especially in the German-speaking lands, for “dressed prints,” prints enlivened with multi-layered onlays and cut out for insets, including copper-covered paper backings.

I locate no other examples of pierced vellum bindings revealing metallic backings; most were backed in textiles, but the technique for cutting the parchment was the same. It was described thus by Anshelmus Faust in 1612: “First you line the vellum with paper, mark it, gild it (off the book), then ‘put it on a thick pasteboard and hammer stamps or tools [through the vellum] in all sorts of ways as you want it, but the tools need to be sharp, like those shoemakers use when they want to pierce the leather of shoes ... Then take a piece of satin or taffeta in whatever colour you fancy, cover the under side of the vellum with strong glue and put the satin taffeta over it’” (Faust, Beschrijvinghe ende onderwijsinghe ... des boeckbinders handwerck, manuscript in Flemish and French, Antwerp, 1612, published by the Bibliotheca Wittockiana in 1987, translated and cited by Foot, p. 77).

The main cut-out pattern combines elements from two model interlace patterns for tooling with gouges, proposed by C. E. Predinger in Der Buchbinder und Futteralmacher, vol. 1 (1741), figs. 12 and 16 (reproduced by Foot, pp. 88 and 89, figs. 45 and 46), while the central star uses strategically selected portions of Predinger’s model for tooling geometrically composed star-shaped designs (reproduced by Foot, p. 84, fig. 41).

The tools of angels, pairs of busts, and tree of Eden may indicate that the songbook was bound as a husband’s wedding gift to his wife, presumably soon after publication of the hymnal. If so, thirty years later, the groom, now an elderly widower, gave the book to his granddaughter on the occasion of her confirmation; he died soon after.

This binding must have been eye-popping when new. At the center of both covers near the fore-edges the copper within the cutout pattern is bright fuchsia-colored. Possibly all of the coppery backing was this color; this section may have preserved the sheen by having been covered by a now missing fore-edge clasp. The latter would have covered up part of the pattern and thus would seem to have been added later, possibly in the 19th century, probably along with the endpapers.

OCLC lists a digitized copy of this songbook at Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek. Not (yet) in VD-18. Cf. Mirjam Foot, Bookbinders at work: their roles and methods (London 2006); many thanks to Professor Foot and to Jan Storm van Leeuwen for their helpful comments on the binding.
Item #4305

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