Plautus: ComoediaeBack to corvina data
Description of binding
Size of the book: 347 x 228 (with sewing support 230) x 70 mm, dimension of the board: 347 x 226 x 6-9 mm
Corvina under shelfmark Cod. Lat. 241. has an undecorated purple full velvet covering. Originally, it was fastened with four pairs of left-to-right fastening, hooked clasp-type, trefoiled brass clasps. Only three catch plates placed on the board have survived / survive on the binding. The boards are made of beech wood. The bookblock, consisting of parchment quires, is sewn all along on five double white leather sewing supports with kettle stitches. The material of the endleaves is also parchment; endleaves are sewn to the bookblock. The edge is painted, gilded and gauffered on all three sides; ornamental, tendrillar plant motifs in red, blue and green (colors) stand perpendicular to the boards, next to each other on the edge. The author’s name and the titling painted on the fore-edge are bordered with green (color); feet of letters face the left board. The endband core is white, rolled leather; its ornament is secondary-sewn with threads of three different colors, one of which is a metal thread. Saddle sewing was applied.
1. Decorating techniques
The edge is gilded on three sides (currently the gilding is hardly visible at the head), gauffered with small points, and painted in red, green and blue (colors). Stylized plant motifs stand perpendicular to the boards, next to each other, their interweaving leaves forming undulating ornaments running all along the edge. The author’s name and the title can be read on the fore-edge; feet of letters face the left board, which suggests that the book was probably stored horizontally, lying on the left board. The Head-edge is more ragged and faded. The Colors of the edge painting and the threads of the endband harmonize with each other.
2. Binding techniques
The book has a purple full velvet covering; the material features irregular dark and light purple stripes, presumably due to the unevenness of fiber dyeing. Currently a bluish-purple stain is visible on the cover of the right board. Turn-ins extend to 25-30 millimeters on the inner faces of the boards. The edge of the material is trimmed (no traces of trimming can be detected on the boards), except at the fore-edge of the right board, where the turn-in ends in the original, intact (green-purple) edge of the material formed by weaving. Mitered corners can be observed. This is suggested by several, not particularly deep scratch marks on the wooden boards.
The boards are made of beech wood; their external surfaces are shaped with a gentle curve around the borders in the form of peripheral cushions, while the curves were shaped by grating the edges of the boards. Traces of grating can be easily detected on the borders of the boards, in an approximately 3-centimer width.
Steep, almost vertical external bevels can be seen along the spine edge, the external edge of the bevel being rounded. On the inner faces of the boards, there are internal bevels along the edges, and the spine edge also features bevels, but only in a narrow width. The edge of the board at the spine features steep external bevels, and it is rounded; on the inner face, the edge features bevels in a narrow width.
Shallow, rectangular recesses were cut into the left board to accommodate the straps, but no recesses were made for them on the edge of the board.
On the right board, no recesses were cut to accommodate the fastenings.
Parts of the sewing supports extending beyond the width of the spine were led into the edges of the boards, where they run half a centimeter long, aslant, through tunnels to an outer channel of strap width on the surfaces of the boards.
On the inner sides of the corners of the boards adjacent to the spine, an arched recess was drilled to lead the endband core out, which fits in channels (forming an approximately 45 degree angle with the edges of the boards) on the outer faces of the boards.
The boards are dried up transversely; currently they are short at the front, leaving the textblock sticking out under them.
The book has a tight back and is slightly rounded. No sign of spine lining can be detected.
The book was fastened with four pairs of left-to-right fastening, hooked clasp-type brass clasps. The trefoiled form on the boards and the direction of fastening are characteristic of hooked clasp-type clasps. Two versions of the trefoiled form can be observed / seen on the boards. Three of the catch plates on the right board have survived / survive; the one at the head was lost, similarly to the presumably smaller, rectangular clasps, characteristic of the type, which had been on the straps. Fastenings on the board are made of plates; they feature a trefoiled form and are decorated with three pierced three-leaf clovers and incised lines. The contour of the clasps on the fore-edge is pinnatifid, scalloped, imitating a leaf, and the incised lines running within form the veins of the leaf. The contour of the clasp at the tail is smooth, the arc in the middle is peaked, while the two arcs at the bottom are arched; incisions running within form the stem of the pierced clover pattern. The blockage part of the clasp extends beyond the board. The fastenings are fixed with three iron nails each, and right next to each of them there is a nail hole left empty. The mounting nails are tiny iron nails, almost without a head. There is also a bigger copper nail in the clasp at the tail, at the peak of the middle arc. Some of the nails penetrate the board.
On the left board, in four shallow, rectangular clasp-strap recesses, fragments of textile ribbons forming the clasp strap can be detected. White, interwoven geometric patterns decorating the green textile ribbons are identical recto verso. Yellow threads are also visible across the texture of the ribbon, and yellow thread ends, slipping out at the place where the ribbon was torn, can be detected. The ends of the straps were hidden under the velvet covering, in the recesses formed on the wooden board, and were fixed with two large, hemispherical iron nails. The nails can be found near the edge of the board (approximately 3-5 millimeters), parallel to it. On the inner face of the board, velvet turn-in covers the endings of the nails. On the fore-edge, one of the mounting nails of the strap nearer to the tail is missing.
The author’s name and the titling are painted on the fore-edge in color letters. Feet of letters face the left board, which means the book was probably stored horizontally, lying on the left board.
2.5.1 Composition of the textblock
The material of the leaves is parchment (on several leaves the hair-follicle pattern, characteristic of goatskin, and spots of the animal are detectable); all gatherings consist of five sheets, except the last gathering, which consists of six sheets. The current state of the connection of the last gathering and the endleaves is not the same as the original; it was modified during re-sewing. Currently, the first sheet of the last gathering is folded over the endleaves. The gatherings are sewn all along on five double, presumably alum-tawed white leather sewing supports with kettle stitches. S-twist sewing thread was used. The sewing supports were filled during sewing. Parts of the sewing supports extending beyond the width of the spine were led into the edges of the boards aslant, through tunnels to an outer channel on the surfaces of the boards, where they were fixed with two iron nails. Rusting caused by them is visible on the inner face of the boards.
The bookblock is slightly rounded; it was edge-trimmed after rounding.
The edge is gilded on three sides (currently it is faded, hardly visible at the head), gauffered with small points, and painted in red, green and blue (colors). Gauffering follows and complements the painted pattern. Stylized plant motifs stand perpendicular to the boards, next to each other, their interweaving leaves forming undulating ornaments running all along the edge. The author’s name and the title can be read on the fore-edge; there is no definite frame for the titling. Feet of letters face the left board, from which it can be concluded that the book was probably stored horizontally, lying on the left board. Traces of green paint / dye can be detected at the tail-edge of the left board.
The endleaves are made of parchment and are sewn to the quires. The endleaves at the left board are sewn one-fold leaves folded towards the board. The more yellow, grain sides of the full leaves face each other. The endleaf facing the board is undersize and is not pasted onto the board as a pastedown, but traces of whitish, hard adhesive can be detected on the board. The endleaf at the right board is a sewn single leaf folded towards the board. The first, full leaf is of smaller size than the leaves of the bookblock.
There is no bookmark.
The endband core is a white, presumably alum-tawed, rolled leather strap, attached to the textblock in a separate session from sewing, in a way that tiedowns were made in every gathering with the sewing thread near the kettle stitches, while the core was tightly filled with sewing thread. Decorative stitches are provided by the regular alteration of green and pink/flesh-colored silk threads and a metal thread corroded to a bluish color. Based on analogies, it can be established that the metal thread is a strip cut from cupriferous silver foil, gilded on one side, and wrapped around a yellow silk gut thread. The even distribution of the colors of the endband was achieved by using fewer (two threads) from the thicker metal thread, and more (four threads per color) from the silk threads side by side. Saddle sewing was applied. A row of beads runs at the foot of the endband. S-twist embroidery threads were used.
The endband core gets out to the outer face of the board led into a recess, drilled at the corners of the boards, where it fits in channels forming an approximately 45 degree angle with the edges of the boards. Because of the overlaying velvet turn-in, no penetration of the nails can be detected on the inner face of the board.
Preserving the original core, and without using a metal thread, the tailband was reconstructed in 1989.
The book was restored in 1989 in the Restoration Laboratory of National Széchényi Library. According to the restoration card catalogue, restoration included dry cleaning, the endleaves were repaired, and the tailband was re-sewn to the original core. It is clearly visible from the difference between the sewing threads that the first gathering, and the endleaves at the left and the right boards were re-sewn. The current state of the connection of the last gathering and the endleaves is not the same as the original; it was modified during re-sewing. Currently, the first sheet of the last gathering is folded over the endleaves. The storage box of the book contains a Restoration Head Sheet dated April 10, 2002, in which pasting of the floating threads standing out of the velvet covering is requested. All signs indicate that this request was fulfilled.