Gems of bookbindings from the collections of the The National Library of Finland
The National Library's share in the exhibition will present bookbindings from a time-frame encompassing five hundred years, since the 15th century. The exhibited samples will cover various aspects of bindings in the light of materials, techniques, and styles. Books chosen to this exhibition are handbound.
Bookbindings do not only reveal techiques, materials, fashons and esthetic values but even social, economic, cultural and functional dimensions. The size of a book and the way of binding can also indicate the purpose of the book or, in what kind of situations the book is supposed to be used. An individually bound book can also characterize the owner of the book or reveal something about the intended readership: who the book was expected to be read and handled by. Therefore, some special features regarding binding can also reveal information about contemporary social phenomena or open door to historical times. Some of the books have additionally an interesting connection to their owners' personal history.
In many cases it is possible to trace an old bookbinding to a certain country of origin. Very seldomly, however, have bookbinders from the past centuries revealed particular information about themselves, by signing their works in a way or another. It has, however, been possible to trace and indentify individual binders or their bookbinding workshops, based on historical study and sources.
The more modern exhibition material includes also Finnish bookbindings from the 19th century. These samples are most often traceable to named master bookbinders from Turku or Helsinki.