A Beautiful Binding

The Library has the largest collection of bindings by the brothers James and William Scott, renowned Scottish bookbinders who were active in the second half of the 18th century. We are always looking to add to our collections of bindings, and here’s one we bought recently.

Scott binding

This particular volume is bound in a red morocco binding which is representative of James Scott’s earlier work. Here is a bit of technical information: It combines the characteristics of the rococo style with elements of chinoiserie, a style that preceded his shift into a more neo-classical decorative influence. Both boards are bordered by a Greek-key roll, panels with an elaborate rococo decoration framing a radiating pyramid, with use of swan and nesting bird tools; the spine is gilt in compartments, repeating a tool with two birds. The binding appears datable to c.1777.

Three books are bound together in this one volume: a Book of Common Prayer, a Companion to the altar, and the New version of the Psalms of David. They were all printed by Adrian Watkins in Edinburgh between 1761 and 1762, but they obviously had to wait some 15 years before they were bound together by James Scott.