Guest post by Brooke Jackson
Of the books I’ve worked with from the University of Nashville Collection this semester, this rare volume published in 1732 (images below) has been one of my favorites.
There are a few bibliographic qualities that makes this book interesting. It features red and black ink on the title page, the edges are red, the paper is of course handmade, and the cover is vellum (animal skin).
Perhaps the most interesting aspect though is the extreme size of the page block! The book is well over 2000 pages, and thus has an incredibly wide spine. Upon close inspection during cataloging, it came to my attention that the page numbers do not follow in succession and there are actually multiple title pages in this one volume. I discovered that this book was not one book, but was five books bound together into one. I learned that catalogers refer to this as a “bound with.” This week I learned how to handle bound-withs from the technical end of things within Vanderbilt’s catalog.
Bound-withs are not uncommon, as early books were often printed as page blocks and sold unbound. Often, an individual patron would purchase the pages and get the book bound themselves by a book binder, therefore, it was convenient to get more than one book bound together. Since different patrons may have taken their copies of a particular printed book to different binders, the copies that still exist today could all look very different! Books during this time were carefully crafted by many hands (papermakers, printers, binders, illustrators), which is part of what makes them rare and unique.