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The Collation

embroidered bindings

So last week’s crocodile mystery was nailed by Aaron Pratt within a half-hour of my posting: what you see below is, as he notes, an embroidered binding depicting David and Goliath and covering a Book of Psalms, in this instance, one from 1639. 

  1. Mary M. Brooks, English Embroideries of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries in the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum (London, 2004), p14
  2. Thanks to Brooke Palmieri for sharing information about this copy.


Hi Sarah, great post! I agree, embroidered bindings need to be worked into (pun intended) book history more generally — and not just because they cover books. There’s an interesting example of a book at the MET with pictorial needlework mirroring the title page for the book it covers (here: — and of course most of the patterns were pricked from prints. There’s also an interesting example in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum of a 1629 Book of Psalmes embroidered with a pattern that comes with a matching ensemble of embroidered gloves and a pincushion … the book as a fashion accessory? It really puts all those little early modern occasional poems about gifting books to and between women in a new context.

whitney trettien — October 1, 2012

Really unbelievable how great embroidery they have done on the covers. Even now I cannot think about this kind of great work by hand. They was the real artist to me.

Roy Jhonson — September 22, 2019