English panel-stamped

GUILELMUS CARTHUSIENSIS
(fl. early 15th century).
Sermones super Orationem Dominicam.
Paris: Ulrich Gering and Berthold Rembolt, 1494. (06982)

Facing an unprecedented increase in book production, fifteenth-century Netherlandish binders popularized a time-saving process known as panel stamping, in which heated metal plates cast in relief were impressed into dampened leather covers. This technique, which allowed for a more abundant and pictorially coherent design, eventually replaced blind tooling as the dominant form of binding decoration in Northern Europe.

Bridwell Library’s earliest panel-stamped binding appears on this 1494 Parisian book that was bound soon thereafter in England. The panel on its front cover, accidentally stamped upside-down, depicts a traditional devotional scene known as “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”), in which Christ, holding the instruments of his torture, appears before the viewer just as he was shown to the people by Pontius Pilate (John 19:5). The panel on the back cover (also stamped upside-down) shows dragons, falcons, and monstrous dogs amid twisting vines. Both panel stamps follow Netherlandish models, but all three surviving books that bear these stamps were bound in England.

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Fifteenth-Century Bookbinding
English panel-stamped