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A Binding By Johannes Richenbach

Johannes Herolt (d. 1468).
Sermones Discipuli.
[Reutlingen: Michael Greyff, c. 1479–82].

Johannes Richenbach (d. 1486), who conspicuously signed and dated many of his bindings from 1467 to 1486, is one of the few fifteenth-century bookbinders known by name. The parish chaplain at Geislingen near Ulm, Richenbach was the first binder known to decorate his bindings with rolls, that is, metal wheels bearing incised patterns that created repeating decorative friezes. He used rolls on bindings dated as early as 1469; some of his roll-tooled bindings may be even earlier. At least fifty-eight of Richenbach’s bindings survive.

On the present pigskin binding, which Richenbach did not sign, the title “Discipulus” was blind-stamped and painted in large letters across the top of the upper cover. Richenbach’s unusual habit of adding red and dark brown pigment to certain blind-tooled emblems occurs here, as well. The three border rolls feature a repeated floral motif, hunters and birds, and running dragons. Both clasps and the metal bosses are modern replacements.