Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ex Libris

Well, here's something that is definitely going to squick out the squeamish.

Apparently the practice of binding fine books in leather hasn't always restricted the materials used to the denizens of the farmyard. While libraries of old books probably don't want to publicize the fact, a number of fine tomes are actually bound in human leather. It's doubtful that anyone was offed to bind up a copy of an anatomy textbook in the collection at The National Library of Medicine in MD (likely skin was from cadavers used in research), but researchers have apparently found evidence that using human skin was not uncommon with private collectors, who were the primary owners of books in antiquity

Other books (including an account of someone's trial bound in his own skin, and copies of 18th century morality tales about life and death, and a few books with noticeable tattoos) exist at many libraries, and the estimate is that a few hundred such volumes survive. Researchers are quite sure that these volumes are not the result of some sort of Hannibal Lector-type criminal, however; in some cases, the "donor" of the binding was thanked in the text. (More).

No comments: