October 17, 2023 in 

An armorial binding refers to any bookbinding (typically leather but sometimes cloth) stamped with the coat-of-arms of its owners.

Armorial binding in bookbinding refers to any binding decorated with an elaborate coat of arms, popular during the 16th and 17th centuries and frequently employed to bind law books or official texts. This style is also used by bookbinders today without being part of bookbinding services per se. Armorial can also refer to any binding decorated with features that do not necessarily come under bookbinding’s purview – although no direct association between the bookbinding trade and armorial is assumed here.

Armorial binding’s origins remain mysterious; one theory suggests its inception occurred in England, where bookbinders started decorating bindings with coats of arms from clients; another contends it began in France, where bookbinders illustrated bindings using components from French monarchs as decorations. Whatever its source, armorial binding has become immensely popular both there and worldwide.

Arms were often employed to decorate book covers, spines, and endpapers. Sometimes whole bindings would feature elaborate coats of arms; other times, an ornamental border was placed along its edge using arms as decoration.

Armorial bindings were popular during the Renaissance when books often came with lavish covers to show their wealth and status, so armorial books became treasured gifts or pieces used by wealthy patrons who commissioned them as showpieces to display. Today collectors and scholars prize armorial bindings for their historical value and beauty.

Armorial binding may no longer be widely utilized, yet it occasionally finds use when publishing special edition books.

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