- New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2017.
- 7.375 x 10.5 inches
- hardcover, dust jacket
- 384 pages
- ISBN: 1584563680
- ISBN: 9781584563686
Price: $95.00 other currencies
Order Nr. 129111
"In this lavishly illustrated study, Margit J. Smith uncovers the largely untold story of a very different model of medieval book use: she has written the definitive account of the 'girdle book', a small, portable volume designed for quick access and consultation. ...In this intriguing study, Smith helps us to see the book as a mobile commodity long before our own era of supposedly short attention spans."
- Eve Houghton,TLS, April 6, 2018
Between the 14th and 16th centuries a little-known book format, now called the girdle book, was used throughout various European countries. The girdle book is distinguished by a cover that extends beyond the limits of the book itself and may end in a knot, hook or ring, or may be left ungathered. By this extension the book was hung from the belt with its head down, so when swung up it could be read without detaching it from the belt.
Today there are only twenty-six known examples identified and documented in collections worldwide. In The Medieval Girdle Book, the author provides a comprehensive look at these extremely rare books. A study of this scope, which contributes significantly to the information available has been lacking until now and makes this the first thorough treatment of all so far known girdle books.
The author has examined each book in detail, documented its historical context, provenance, owner(s) or institutions associated with it, and described each from the bookbinder's perspective, including the materials and processes of their construction. Contrary to previous assumptions that only clerics and the religious used girdle books, The Medieval Girdle Book shows they also contain legal, medical, and philosophical contents.
This book is illustrated with more than 290 color photographs taken by the author or reproduced from contemporary works of art to show their use during the Middle Ages.
Margit Smith is a librarian and hand bookbinder. She retired in 2010 from the Helen K. and James S. Copley Library at the University of San Diego, CA, after nearly twenty years as Head of Cataloging and Preservation.