This post comes from the 2012 Gladys Brooks conservation intern, Morgan Adams. Morgan is currently interning in the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library & Museum
As the 2012 Gladys Brooks intern I had the pleasure of working with Senior Book Conservator Anne Hillam on a model of a stiff-boards parchment binding with a slotted spine, a style seen commonly in Italian bindings of the 16th-17th centuries.
A unique feature of this binding is the juxtaposition of the parchment and alum-tawed skin used to cover the book’s spine. Slots cut in the parchment across the spine reveal the alum-tawed skin patches covering the sewing supports. It is a combination with structural as well aesthetic advantages: The alum-tawed skin provides the flexibility necessary to conform to the raised sewing supports, while the parchment provides a more durable surface to protect the bulk of the spine.
To prepare for this binding, we made detailed examinations of six books printed in Venice between 1508 and 1585 in the NYAM special collections. In conjunction with Sylvia Pugliese’s study of this binding style at the National Library Marciana in Venice, we selected material and structural features that exemplified the binding style. These features are highlighted in the images below, which show the steps of the binding process and the finished model.
 Sylvia Pugliese, “Stiff-Board Vellum Binding with Slotted Spine: Survey of a Historical Bookbinding Structure,” in Papier Restaurierung – Mitteilungen der IADA, Vol. 2 (2001), Suppl., S. 93-101.