Reflections on Bindings: David and Goliath

Institutiones imperiales (Cölle, 1563)
March 13, 2014

Institutiones imperiales latinogermanicae : die vier bücher Institutionum Keisers Ivstiniani… [The Latin-German Institutes of the Emperor: the four books of Emperor Justinian’s Institutes…]. Cöllen: Erben Johann Quentels vnd Gerwinem Galenium, 1563.    

This book contains a parallel text of Emperor Justinian’s Institutes in Latin and German, translated by 16th-century German lawyer Justin Göbler.

The text block is printed on handmade paper in black ink, and sewn on split thongs laced into paper boards made with printer’s waste. The book is covered in alum-tawed skin and blind-tooled with decorative rolls. One roll depicts the biblical characters David and Goliath, and the other is a palmette frieze motif commonly used on books of this period.

The two images above show an RTI of the palmettes roll (left), and a rubbing of a similar roll (right) found in the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve (DELTA 54853 RES, Thomas à Kempis, Opera Omnia).

The image on the left above is an RTI image of the second decorative roll, and on the right are the results of a rubbing of that roll. Using the transcribed text seen in the RTI images of the roll, we were able to find an exact match in Einbandattenbank (EBDB). The text reads DAVID SCHLEGT GOLIATH DEN PHILISTER HAVPTM; “David strikes Goliath, the headman of the Philistines”.

           –Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity. Translation of the title and stamp text is courtesy of Professor Rebekah Ahrendt, Yale Department of Music.

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

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