Replication of an Eighteenth Century Manuscript Binding

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Six videos demonstrating the replication of a specific eighteenth-century manuscript's binding by the British Library's conservator, Flavio Marzo.

The parts of the video demonstrate the replication, step by step, of a copy of a eighteenth-century Arabic Manuscript, IO Islamic 924:

  • Sewing the book
  • Creating the Islamic style end bands
  • Preparing the leather cover
  • Recreating the decorative tooling on the covers
  • Attaching the cover to the book block

This manuscript is part of a series of four manuscripts that were copied in 1784 for Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal from 1772–85.

At a glance, they appear to be so-called ‘Western style’ bindings but when examined closely they actually bear all the typical features of the so-called ‘Islamic style’ book structure. This mixture of features is likely due to the fact that Hastings, who was living in Bengal when he acquired them, had them bound by a local binder who was instructed to match other books in his collection.