17 September 2013

"Back-to-back" bookbinding

The bookbindings above are as odd as they are rare. In fact, I encountered my first only a few days ago while browsing Folger Library’s image database of bookbindings. The binding is called “dos-à-dos” (back to back), a type almost exclusively produced in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are like Siamese twins in that they present two different entities joint at their backs: each part has one board for itself, while a third is shared between the two. Their contents show why this was done: you will often find two complementary devotional works in them, such as a prayerbook and a Psalter, or the Bible’s Old and New Testament. Reading the one text you can flip the “book” to consult the other...
Photo and text from the ever-interesting Erik Kwakkel, where there are additional photos of similar bindings, including one that incorporates seven texts back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

Addendum:  A hat tip to reader Christina Wilsdon for her observation that the term "dos-à-dos" (meaning "back to back") is related in etymology to the square dancing term "do-si-do."

12 comments:

  1. This made my day, as I'm enchanted to learn the phrase dos-à-dos” and its meaning of "back to back," because I immediately wondered if the square dancing term do-si-do harks from that phrase, and a quick google search reveals it does. I have no idea why this evokes such a pleasant feeling, akin to tidying up the junk drawer or reshelving books in a new and better order, but it does! :)

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    1. It struck me the same way!

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    2. It escaped me at the time. But now I've added it to the post. Tx, Christina.

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  2. Plenty of '50s "two-fer" sic-fi titles were published this way, sans the third cover. (In these instances, the publishers could be said to have predicted the past, I guess.)

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    1. I remember those. When my husband and I were dating in the late 50s, we would buy one of these "two-fer" sci-fi pocketbooks, tear them apart and each read one of the novels. Then we'd switch. Some of the top science fiction writers were published in that format.

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  3. McSweeney's Quarterly produced a book this way too. You can sort of see it in the second image here:
    https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/mcsweeneys-issue-24

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  4. Very cool. And thanks for the link to Erik's page, which is very interesting.

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  5. Intriguing and rather beautiful! Thank you. (Reblogging)

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    1. Lovely and interesting blog(s). Bookmarked.

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  6. Not related, but I did not know where to drop a "book igloo" link

    http://iwastesomuchtime.com/on/?i=34876

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    1. Not a good source; whoever writes for that site failed to give credit to the artist, Miler Lagos -

      http://inhabitat.com/miler-lagos-awesome-igloo-is-stacked-high-with-hundreds-of-recycled-books/

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    2. That's right. Thanks for the link. It got me curious and now I found even more interesting art installations by Miler Lagos involving books and printed material.

      http://www.blogto.com/arts/2010/04/art_agenda_miler_lagos_at_the_department_greg_lamarche_at_show_tell_romas_astrauskas_at_le_gallery/

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