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Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print
Blank Books: Ruling and Binding

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Blank Books: Ruling and Binding

From the late sixteenth century, books on accounting increasingly gave instructions to merchants, bureaucrats, and householders on how to rule blank paper to make the different kinds of notebooks necessary for the new methods of accounting.  At the same time, blank notebooks were often sold with distinctively sturdy "tacket" bindings to protect them from damage caused by their heavy use.


Tacket bindings were strengthened with leather bands that could be securely attached with "tackets" or thongs. Strong bindings were necessary for books that would be heavily used for decades or even centuries. See the example above right.


In the late sixteenth century, textbooks on arithmetic were frequently supplemented by specific advice on how to keep accounts, which included the necessary forms of ruling for account books. The system shown at the bottom right is for a ledger, which, we are told, should be marked with the letter B so as to distinguish it from the "Booke of Debitor and Creditor," marked with the letter A. The printed ruled lines were then imitated in manuscript account books.


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A book of diverse necessary remembrances. Manuscript, ca. 1568-1644

Nicolaus Petri. The pathway to knowledge. London, 1596

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