Book covers and book cushions

Book covers and book cushions

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses a beautifully decorated Bible cover that was made in England and dates to around 1650. The cover is made of satin that is embroidered and plaited with silk and silver threads, and further decorated with seed pearls, metal and leather.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses an embroidered book cover that dates to AD 1799. The cover is made of silk satin and paper, and is embroidered with silk thread. It measures 15.24 x 12.38 cm.

Book cushions were used to protect the often precious and highly decorated book (a Bible or Prayer Book) covers while the book was held open upon an altar or lectern. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an English, padded book cushion that dates to about 1625-1650. It measures 28.5 x 20.5 x 9 cm.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, has in its collection a book cover made in England, which dates to about 1634 and measures 17.8 x 12.1 x 6.5 cm. It is made of board covered with satin and embroidered with silver and silver gilt threads, with purl and coil, and with coloured silks and plaited threads.

A remarkable, embroidered copy of a King James Bible was published in 1629 and is now kept by the Shakespeare Birthday Trust (SBT). Bound in leather and covered with white silk, it is embroidered with a 'Garden of Eden' design with birds, snakes, insects, plants and flowers. The cover is also ornamented with sequins, crewel work, and a braid made of yellow thread and wrapped with metal thread.

During the Second World War (1939-1945), rationing was applied in the UK and other countries, for many essential items, including clothing, food, paper, petrol and soap. People were issued with a variety of ration cards/coupons (clothing coupons, butter coupons, etc). When something was purchased a set number of coupons were stamped in order to cancel them. Rationing in Britain was only officially stopped in 1954.

The Felbrigge Psalter is housed in the British Library. It dates to the mid-thirteenth century and was probably made in France. The illuminated psalter is particularly famous for the embroideries set into each of its eighteenth century leather-restored covers. The Psalter was owned in the fifteenth century by Anne (de) Felbrigge, daughter of Sir Simon de Felbrigge, of Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk (near Cromer), hence its name.

The Geneva Bible now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, was presented on New Year's Day 1584 to Queen Elizabeth I by the printer, Christopher Barker (c. 1529-1599). The cover is decorated with gold, silver and silk threads with seed pearls on a velvet ground material. The motifs include a symmetrical arrangement of stems worked in gold, with roses in Tudor style.

The Jains in Indian Gujarat used to protect their sacred texts with satin or velvet covers that were generally embroidered with metal and silk threads. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an example that dates from the late nineteenth century. It is made of red satin with metal thread embroidery and sequins. It measures 16 x 29.2 cm.