Studio: international art — 2.1894

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English Embroidered Book-Covers


w NGLISH EMBROIDERED BOOK- some reference to the subject of the book itself.

COVERS. BY CYRIL DAVEN- Books are sometimes found that have portraits of
^ From the many existing specimens /

that have survived the wear and tear of some
hundreds of years we can infer with tolerable
certainty that books in embroidered covers were
produced in considerable numbers in England
from the time of Henry VII. until the beginning
of the eighteenth century. They were undoubt-
edly much valued, and in many instances were
worked by Royal hands, the finest examples being
carefully kept in bags embroidered and made for
them, rare specimens of each remaining together
even to this day.

Embroidered books may, as to their design, be
roughly classed as heraldic, scriptural or emblem-
atic, and conventional. The heraldic designs,
including those bearing initials or monograms, are
usually referable to the ownership of the volumes ;
the floral and conventional are probably merely
the outcome of the taste or fancy of the designer;
the scriptural or emblematic designs alone have

" psalmes," sternold 6° hophner, 1637. (fig. 2.)
drawn by cyril davenport, f.s.a.

distinguished people embroidered on their covers,.
. but these are hardly numerous enough to be con-
sidered as a class ; they are usually of especially
fine workmanship. Folios, and large books gene-
rally, are nearly always overcrowded in design,
except when the decoration is of an heraldic nature,,
and of these some splendid volumes, which have
originally formed part of Royal libraries, still
exist; they are mostly bound in velvet, and worked
in coloured silks and gold and silver cords of
various patterns.

The purest and best designs and most beautiful
workmanship are to be found on the smaller books-
with embroidered bindings; on these may be found
the finest possible stitches, inlays of various ma-
terials, pearls, precious stones, and even effects
produced by the use of water-colours.

The stitch most generally used is satin stitch,,
rarely, however, except in combination with some
stronger form of work, some cord or raised border
to protect it. Chain stitch, a particularly English
style, is seldom found on books, nevertheless one-
exquisite specimen of it exists, unfortunately in a
•the whole books of psalmes," &c. 1641. (fig. i.) ver>' bad state of preservation, on a Latin Psalter,
drawn by cyril davenport, f.s.a. embroidered, probably some time during the

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