De finibus bonorum et malorum
[Cologne: Ulrich Zell, c. 1472]
This colourful Southern German monastic binding demonstrates that not all fifteenth-century bindings were brown. Although faded, the vibrancy of the original colour can be seen on the turn-ins, which have been protected from light damage. Coloured bindings are recorded in the Romanesque period – in 1369 nearly 70% of the bindings in the Avignon Papal Library were stained red or green – and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries they were frequently found in monastic libraries. The letter ‘S’ within a crest presumably identifies the binder, but no other bindings bearing this tool have yet been located.