Library Binding: A Historical Sketch
Historically the purpose of binding has been the preservation of the written word. Prior to the modern book, the earliest library materials of the Alexandria-Assyrian clay tablets with their cuneiform inscriptions, were enveloped in outer clay shells. Early Egyptian Papyrus rolls were preserved in rectangular grooves cut out of wood. The rolled up scrolls of vellum, papyrus of paper were encased in cylinders or similar shape. With the advent of manuscripts in book form, came the development of fine bindings, splendid work in leathers and metals, ornamented with jewels, enamels, and covered ivory. It became the art work of great craftsmen. The development of printing brought in publishers' binding which is often of poor quality and workmanship. Thus binding was transformed from an art to a mere craft.