Quarter Binding

Quarter binding or quarter covers are a type of binding that covers the spine and around 1/8th -1/4th of the boards (covers) with one type of material, and the rest of the board with another type of material.

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Quarter binding

Quarter binding or quarter covers are a type of binding that covers the spine and around 1/8th -1/4th of the boards (covers) with one type of material, and the rest of the board with another type of material.

(Boards are stiff material used as covers for a book. Historically, they were made of wood but nowadays, they are made of cardboard.)

The ratio of spine material to board material is approximately 1:3.

The materials may be:

  • Leather and paper
  • Vellum and paper
  • Cloth and paper
  • Leather and cloth

The corners of the book are usually not covered in quarter binding. This is what differentiates it from half binding.

Sometimes, the corners may be reinforced using vellum or paper but is covered by the material of the board, so they cannot be seen from the outside.

The most commonly seen material combinations in fine bindings are leather and paper or vellum and paper.

A related term is Three-Quarter Binding, which is a binding style in which the spine and most of the sides of the book are bound in one material and the remaining sides are covered by another material.

This term is also used when the spine and a large portion of the corners are bound in the same type of material.


Why were quarter bindings used?

The main reason why quarter bindings were used was to save costs and this binding is found in books produced cheaply with inexpensive materials and structural shortcuts.

Quarter bindings were used for south German and north Italian books produced in the late 15th century and early 16th century. These books usually had uncovered wooden boards.

In the 18th century and 19th century, quarter bindings became a way of showing off expensive materials that were used in the spine by shelving the book upright with spines outwards.

In the first quarter of the 19th century, quarter bindings of leather were popular in France.

In the late 18th century, interesting materials were used in English books such as Russia leather, tanned goat skin, or parchment.


References:

  1. https://www.ligatus.org.uk/lob/concept/1530
  2. https://bindings.lib.ua.edu/styles.htm
  3. https://cool.culturalheritage.org/don/dt/dt2752.html#:~:text=quarter%20binding%20(%20quarter%2Dbound%20),the%20boards%20covered%20with%20another.
  4. https://blog.bookstellyouwhy.com/glossary-of-book-binding-terms

7 comments on “Quarter Binding”

  1. The quarter binding looks beautiful; in many books because of the combo used, especially leather and cloth. I have one old book bound to like this. Thnaks for sharing so much information on quarter binding.

  2. This is a very well researched post! I never really thought so much about publishing /binding etc.

  3. Thank you, Aarti! Have you come across such bindings? My grandfather had a collection of books, many of them with such bindings and the corners reinforced with the same material as the spine.

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