Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Anthropodermic Bindings

Just about once a year the topic of books bound in human skin (aka anthropodermic bindings) is brought up again in the biblioworld, to the delight of some and the disgust of others. Scott Brown over at Fine Books Blog notes that his most popular post ever is his discussion of human skin bindings (here). Scott adds a photograph and description of a book in the Stanford Medical Library which was bound in human skin for Hans Friedenthal, a prominent physiologist and anthropologist.

Scott also points us to the classic essay on anthropodermic bindings, "Tanned Human Skin," by Lawrence S. Thompson, which appeared in the April 1946 Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. Not for the squeamish indeed - I was surprised to find myself able to get through it.


Bookride said...

Fascinating... I had not come across this name for such bindings. A 'Dance of Death' (a popular choice for such bindings) passed through the Drouot auctions in Paris recently where it made 7300 euros about $10K and was the subject of a scholarly article on such bindings in the Gazette de L'Hotel Drouot (13/4/07) which includeds details of a bibliomaniac having a book bound in the skin of his favourite poet.

I covered it a while back over at Bookride for what it's worth. It is interesting to note that Zaehnsdorf has done them...whether they still would is another matter. Nigel

"Dorn ohne Röschen" said...

1. one hopes that the binder of the friedenthal copy at least had the good taste to harvest the binding material from his own @ss.

2. i will certainly take a look at the thompson book; can only imagine that the most disturbing section would be 'on obtaining permission from the donor'...