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Book bindings

In the time where digital technology is taking over the world, we can ask ourselves: Is book binding a lost art? Furthermore, is artistic approach to our crafts still exist or are we solely focused on easy accessible digital media? Book binding is perfect example of how technology advancements affected that approach.

History

The art of book binding carries us back to the time when leaden tablets with inscribed hieroglyphics were fastened together with rings. As the centuries rolled on words, sayings and scrolls became more intricate with wooden covers and leather spines. In 16th and 17th century, books became more elegant with rounded spines and covers made of paper rather than wood. Finally, In the twentieth century adhesive replaced the sewn book bindings and mass production became fully mechanical.

Book bindings
Various types of bindings from our library


Nowadays, devices such Kindle can provide us with almost any content for a cost less than a regular paperback. That brings us back to our question: Is the technology pushing out old ways of creating books?

The artists

However, there are few people whose work will make you think twice about the answer. These people are more than bookbinders and paper conservators, they are the keepers of a lost art. Not only that, they are also the keepers of history and its written monuments. The people who see the book not as an object, but as a living being.
One of them is a Serbian bookbinder Aleksandar Ćeklić (Александар Ћеклић), with who we had privilege to cooperate. He is one of few people in Europe who mastered the technique of “byzantine binding”, characteristic for church books in Cyrillic script.

The first Bible in Romanian language, printed in Alba Iulia, 1648. Book in "byzantine binding" by A. Ceklic.
The first Bible in Romanian language, printed in Alba Iulia, 1648. Book in “Byzantine binding” by A. Ceklic.

This is just one of many examples of his thorough work. You can see more at his website.

Conclusion

When I met Aleksandar and took chance to see and ask him about his work, I have realized that art of binding is very much alive. When I heard with how much passion and love he is talking about his craft, I have also realized that technology will never push out this ancient knowledge. No matter how much we get use to digital, easily accessible and portable content, we will always stop to admire the art of creation and aesthetic perfection of a leather bound book.

Miloš Stanković

Miloš Stanković (*1989) holds MA degree in Serbian literature and language from the University of Belgrade. Main field of his interest are Serbian antique books printed from 15th to 18th century. Besides his native tongue, he is fluent in English and French language.

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