VBM 2: Going Gothic, and in 3-D
October’s Victorian Book of the Month is The Miracles of Our Lord, an 1848 book with a papier-mâché binding.
The book is an example of artwork from the Victorian Gothic Revival and is meant to imitate a medieval manuscript – in fact, the book states that the cover was inspired by a 12th century ivory carving. The binding was likely made with a molded plaster mixture and may have been built up on a metal framework and then bound with a leather spine. The binding is black, to imitate ebony, and features six medallions of scenes from the New Testament Gospels. The front and back covers are identical.
The Miracles of Our Lord was designed and illustrated by Henry Noel Humphreys, and printed using chromolithography, a very new printing process when this book was published. Chromolithography involved drawing a single color in an illustration onto a limestone printing slab, printing each sheet multiple times for each color to render the illustration in vibrant color.
Special Collections owns each of the eight titles produced with black papier-mâché bindings. You can find them in the library catalog by searching for the phrase “Papier-mâché bindings” using the genre tab. Don’t worry, the search will work even without the accented letters.