The Fifteenth Century
The principal form of surface decoration on fifteenth-century bindings was blind tooling, in which heated tools were used to impress designs into the damp leather in "blind," that is, without the use of pigment or gold leaf. Another Gothic technique was "cuir ciselé," in which a pictorial design was carved into the leather and sometimes painted. Later in the fifteenth century engraved or cast rolls were used to create continuous repeating friezes of blind ornament, and toward the end of the century panel stamps, impressed with engraved or cast metal blocks, provided larger designs that filled most of one cover in a single operation. The latter innovations were also important labor-saving devices ― a major concern as printed books became more and more plentiful.