Two rare early 16th century bindings by Nicholas Spierinck uncovered in the Rare Books Collection

In 2008 the Baillieu Library was excited to purchase a rare original intact binding by the early Cambridge stationer Nicholas Spierinck, generously funded by the Ivy May Pendlebury Bequest. The beautifully tanned calfskin cover encases a 1512 Paris edition of the works of 3rd-century Christian theologian, Origen Adamantius. At the time of the book’s acquisition, it was (and remains) the only known example of a complete Spierinck binding held in an Australian institution, bearing his personal binder’s mark, and incorporating his signature decorative schema of wyverns, gryphons and acorns.

In a recent intriguing twist to the tale, an uncatalogued box of bindings in the Baillieu Library Rare Books Collection has been found to contain a pair of rare dis-bound Spierinck covers, together with 13 binding fragments from other provenances and time periods. It appears that the samples were amassed by an unidentified donor, as a study collection for research and teaching. The envelopes containing the two Spierinck bindings are clearly marked with his name in a 20th century hand; this attribution is conclusively confirmed by the presence of Spierinck’s distinctive stamp on both panels, which match exactly with those on the intact Origenis binding. More