The volumes in our Rare Book Room collections are valuable in many ways…some for their content, some for their bindings or illustrations, some for their evidence of provenance, all for their contribution to research at Davidson.
Because of age and deterioration, we’ve sent some out for conservation to either be stabilized as they are, or to bring them back to a more original state. Sometimes, however, a book in its ragged, torn and tattered state can be more valuable as a teaching tool than it would be after treatment by a conservator. One example of that kind of tool is our original 1545 copy of George Joye’s The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete.
George Joye (1492-1533) wrote a great number of religious works including biblical translations, commentary, and prophecy. Not fond of the Church of Rome, Joye’s voiced opinion was that emperors and kings had always been the Pope’s puppets. In 1546, a London proclamation was issued directing that Joye’s works (among others) were to be publicly burned. Luckily, some copies were saved, and our Rare Book Room has one which came to us as a gift.
Some of the things we can learn from our tattered volume regarding printing and publishing (and readers) in 1546 include:
BINDING: Leather with gilt spine lettering and decoration. Use of blind stamping and raised spine bands. Evidence of rawhide laces and use of vellum manuscript leaves for spine stiffening.
PAPER: Handmade rag paper (with evidence of wormholes!)
FONT: Mimics that of handwritten manuscripts
MARGINALIA: Extensive evidence of marginalia including notes and textual notation, names, and “doodling.”
Take a look at the images below and see what you can see!