A long-awaited book has finally been published, and my copy has just arrived: Theodore C. Petersen’s Coptic Bookbindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library, edited by Francisco H. Trujillo (Ann Arbor: The Legacy Press, 2021).
Theodore C. Petersen (1883-1966) studied the leather covers and binding structures of the many Coptic codices in the Morgan collection in the first half of the 20th century. He never published the results of his work, but he produced a typewritten manuscript with a number of drawings. Many of us managed to get copies of copies of copies of snippets of this manuscript here and there over the years, but the full manuscript was not widely available to the public until now.
Francisco Trujillo has provided an introduction and edited Petersen’s text. The catalogue is accompanied by Petersen’s line drawings and excellent new color photos.
While this is a catalog, it should be noted that the volume is about more than just the Morgan collection. There is a detailed discussion of early bookbinding in general and Petersen’s analysis of early bindings outside the Morgan collection, such as that of the Akhmimic Proverbs codex in Berlin:
There are several more sample pages shown at the site of Oak Knoll Press, where the book is being sold. I’m very much looking forward to reading this volume. Thanks to Francisco Trujillo, the team at the Morgan Library & Museum, and the people at Legacy Press for producing such an important (and great looking) volume.
And finally, for those wanting a closer look at the Coptic bindings and some of Petersen’s drawings, visit the collection of digital images at the Morgan.