Saturday 9 October 2010

Embroidered Bags for Precious Books

Researchers of antique needlework are often keen to see examplars of a certain item outside their country or period of current study, simply to understand, if possible, by analogy, the process and context in which comparable items are created. Having studied a number of 16th century bags and purses which are often described as being for money or sweets (herbs) we need to remember that such bags were important too for protecting the precious stitched bindings of books of prayer or meditations. So Lot No 647 for auction at Eastbourne Auction Rooms on 21 & 22 October 2010 (Estimates: £40 - £60) provides us with a more contemporary insight, having both bag and book. Dating from the around the close of the 19th century this Lebanese, leather-bound, Christian Book of Prayer is accompanied by its Ottoman-style, embroidered cloth bag which has given it protection over the years. Now that books are relatively cheap and numerous, we would probably never trouble to stitch a bag for our current read. However, publishers of expensive, specialist books continue the tradition to some extent by providing special boxes or hard cases to protect their books for ranging on open shelves.

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