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Lyon and the Jesuits, as Told by their Books: Case 7: Bookbinding

This guide is a student project produced by History Department intern Cora Kim, Fall Semester, 2019.

The Bookbinding Practice

Bookbinding is an ancient trade and one that was of great importance in Lyon, one of the publishing capitals of Europe.  Early printing attempted to copy the style of the medieval manuscript, but developed to smaller, simpler books that could be more cheaply and easily produced.  Especially in the 16th and 17th centuries, books were bound in leather, vellum, and occasionally wood, making them pieces of art as well as texts, whose conservation is an important challenge.

Thomas Aquinas




Thomas. 1552. Operum : Seu Summae Theologiae Divi Thomae Aquinatis..., edited by Tommaso de Vio Cajetan. Lugduni: Apud Hugonem à Porta.

This 1552 book has lost nearly all of its outer binding: notice how its pages are made of folded sheets, or signatures, that have all been stitched together at several points along the spine.


Wood-bound canon law book





Catholic Church. 1605. Corpus Iuris Canonici : Emendatum Et Notis... Lugduni: s.n.

This 1605 book on canon law is an excellent example of a wood-covered book.  Notice the thick, rigid covers, the decorated wood, and the remnants of metal clasps.

Leather canon law volume














Rebuffi, Pierre. 1599. Praxis Beneficiorum D. Petri Rebuffi... Lugduni: Apud haeredes Gulielmi Rouillii.

The binding on this 1599 book is beginning to come apart, revealing the stitching that holds the book together.  Notice the size of the book, common among academic work, as well as the phase box that is used to protect it in the archive.

Fr. Rigoleu's Semons

Rigoleu, Jean. 1739. La Vie Du Pere Jean Rigoleu De La Compagnie De Jesus... Lyon: Chez Pierre Valfray.

This 1739 book of sermons is an excellent example of an eighteenth century popular book.  Notice its smaller size, the use of French, and the similarity in binding to that of the Frères Bruyset.

Warped vellum volume

Lugo, Juan de. 1652. R.P. Ioannis De Lugo Hispalensis, E Societate Iesu... Lugduni: Sumptib. Philippi Borde, Laurentii Arnaud, & Claudii Rigaud.

This 1652 work has a vellum binding that has contracted over time and lack of humidity, a common issue with vellum.

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