Marquetry is cool. 15th century representations of books are very cool. Wooden boarded bindings are very, very cool. But marquetry from the 15th century , depicting wooden boarded books? Very, very, very cool.
There are from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, and date between 1485-1493. The reader seems to be smiling and intently engaged with the book, which is echoed visually in the folds of his cloth shirt radiating, indeed engulfing, the width of the open pages. The amount of throwup on the text seems extreme to me; perhaps it was artistic convention, or perhaps I’m used to handling books from this time period that the spine linings have deteriorated. I almost think there are other, chained books, hanging under the lectern.
The page edges on the volume below, on the right, are lovely, although the craftsman seemed to reverse the curve of the textblock. The intentional wedge shape to the book (in order to make the clasps function, and depicted with the clasps unfastened) is clearly visible. It almost looks like the endband in laced into the board. The book under it might be unfinished– the page edges seem cruder, and don’t depict one of the clasp catch plates. But is does seem to show a quarter leather covering- notice how the grain of the wood changes at the join.
Historic representations of books are a valuable source of information about how books were made, read and stored.
And they are very cool.