Treasures in the Royal Library


Bookbinding is an old craft. The binding protects the book and makes it durable. In the course of time bookbindings have had many forms and types of decorations. Here a number of different types of bindings can be seen – from the Near and the Far East as well as from Western Europe.
Western bindings are presented chronologically. Mediaeval bindings of wood covered with leather are shown along with aristocratic de luxe bindings from the 16th and 17th centuries.

By that time it was usually the owner of a book who had it bound. Later – in Denmark not until the 19th century – it became common practice for publishing houses to mass produce bookbindings. These publishers’ bindings had gold or coloured decorations and the motifs often corresponded with the contents of the books. Also today there is a distinction between publishers’ bindings and handmade private bindings – that is, a binding made for one particular copy of a book.

The Royal Library acquires, on a regular basis, new handbound books by important local and international artists.

See also the web exhibition Danish Bookbindings in the Royal Library (in Danish).

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© Det Kongelige Bibliotek 2003