Hello and welcome to this month’s Bookbinders Digest.

In particular to the 75 new subscribers who signed up for the Digest during June.

A little early this month, as we are off on our summer holidays shortly.

We are going to the Vendee, an area on the South West coast of France.

The weather in the Vendee region benefits from its own microclimate enjoying around 2500 hours of sunshine per year, rivalling even the Côte d'Azur.
We prefer the south west coast as it is less developed than the south.

There are lots of pine forests going right down to uncrowded beaches, with camp sites and chalets set among the pines, we used to holiday here when we lived in the UK, it’s a delightful area.



Our daughter Eden is coming with us, she is now 17, this will possibly be the last family holiday we will have, before she’s off to university, where she plans to live in a student apartment. So like all Dad’s I have to let go my little girl, I shall miss her greatly.

I was hesitant to include this month’s subject; there was very little existing text on the topic. My friend Philippa Marks, Curator of Bookbinding’s at The British Library helped me find what little information there was on the subject.

So please excuse the paucity of text, if any of you know of other online information, I would like to hear from you.

And what is this month’s subject?

The Dos-à-Dos binding.

In bookbinding, a dos-à-dos binding (from the French meaning "back-to-back") is a binding structure in which two or more separate books are bound together such that the fore edge of one is adjacent to the spine of the other, with a shared lower board between them serving as the back cover of both.


A five fold dos à dos binding from 1736.

When shelved, the spine of the book to the right faces outward, while the spine of the book to the left faces the back of the shelf; the text of both works runs head-to-tail.

The dos-à-dos format dates back at least to the 16th century, though they were most common in England was in the first half of the 17th century.
 





17th century English embroidered dos-à-dos Psalms Book.
One book is titled; The Whole Booke of Psalmes,
The second book is The Psalter or Psalmes.


Two books frequently bound in this form were the New Testament and Psalter, presumably because both were needed during church services. Regardless of content, the outer board’s ofdos-à-dos bindings were usually embroidered, or covered with leather and then finished with gold.
 





Left. Front cover of binding.
 


















Left. Back cover.


The term dos-à-dos is also used often, though incorrectly, to refer to a single volume in which two texts are bound together, with one text rotated 180° relative to the other, such that when one text runs head-to-tail, the other runs tail-to-head. This type of binding is properly termed tête-bêche (from the French meaning "head-to-toe").

Books bound in this way have no back cover, but instead have two front covers and a single spine with two titles. When a reader reaches the end of the text of one of the works, the next page is the (upside-down) final page of the other work. These volumes are also referred to as "upside-down books" or "reversible books."

The tête-bêche format has been used for devotional books since the nineteenth century, and possibly earlier.

An example is The Loving Couple: His (and Her) Story, a 1956 bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis. Here, the books are first-person accounts of a rocky marriage, one narrated by the husband, the other volume by the wife.


Left. The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of
the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of
the Church, According to the Use of The Church of
England; Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David.
London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, [ca 1895]


 










Left. 1633 New Testament and a 1629 Book of Common Prayer

 


















Left. 1633 New Testament and a 1629 Book of Common Prayer















Left. 17th century embroidered New Testament and Psalter with gauffered edges.

The dos-à-dos format dates back at least to the 16th century, though they were most common in England was in the first half of the 17th century.

Two books frequently bound in this form were the New Testament and Psalter, presumably because both were needed during church services

 








Left. Fivefold binding (5 rare devotional works published by Feichtinger in Linz), Austria, 1736




 









LeftModern interpretation of a 1579 Italian limp tacketed ledger style binding. By Peter Verheyen.

So there we are, our look at this rather quirky style of binding.

Next month I plan on taking a look at another Bookbinder, I won’t tell you their name, let it be a surprise.

No surprise at all we have in stock some nice 2nd grade, shrunk grain Nigerian goatskins at only £8.50 per sq ft, which as I have said before, is about half the price of such skins from J Hewit’s or Talas.

We have them in pink, beige, greenish grey, salmon, brown, acorn, dark grey, green, wheat & burgundy.

Some unusual colours.

You can still be sure of the same service while we are on holiday, all down to modern technology. I will still be sending and receiving email, every morning and throughout the day and evening, and we have a capable assistant who is handling orders.

May I wish you all a wonderful summer.

Kind Regards

Richard & Family


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Eden Workshops
50 Avenue de la Gare
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St Sulpice Lauriere
France