The article presents the results of the research of the bindings of some of the incunabula preserved in one of the libraries in Warmia. The collection of the collegiate church library in Nowe Miasto was surveyed to identify books of similar structure which were in circulation at approximately the same time. The collection under survey consisted of 129 incunabula, of which 109 items bound in 92 volumes were actually analysed. The next phase of analysis concerned the collection as a whole. At this stage the bindings were examined to establish similarities between them, their functions and the binding techniques. The most common decoration techniques were blind tooling and knurling. Most of the covers had clasps; some were decorated with other furniture. Examples of monk's and catenated bindings point to the functional character of the books. The following stage of analysis was focused on the decoration; it was aimed at identifying similarities in the impressions and in the arrangement of motifs on the covers. Many covers had typical motifs impressed, including eagles, dragons and rue. Among the most interesting stamps were those showing Our Lady, symbols of the Evangelists and the star of David with an inscription inside. Some covers were found with the title of the book or the name of the author impressed; the inscriptions were divided into majuscule and minuscule ones. The final stage of the research was a close analysis of the particularly interesting covers which bore some individual traces of the book's owner. This group comprised a volume which belonged to bishop Jan Wilde, a binding with the date of its making inscribed and a cover decorated with an exquisite plaque showing the Crucifixion. The above outlined approach can serve as a model for research on historic bookbindings belonging to a closed collection and analysed as its integral parts.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.