- Publisher's decorated cloth
- Soft cover, stitched as issued
- Half morocco binding
- Half morocco with corners
- Blind tooled vellum
- Publisher's cloth
- Glazed calf binding
In contrast to contemporary books whose pages are simply assembled and glued, the pages of early books were sewn.
The sheets were printed then folded to form quires which were then sewn together, or onto ribbons or strings.
Soft bound books have a paper cover, whereas in leather bound books or cased bindings, the ribbon or string ends are attached to the boards.
The book – spine and boards - can then be covered with leather or cloth, either completely (full binding), or partly (half-binding) to give an attractive and solid whole.
Publishers’ bindings, very frequent in the second half of the 19th century, are often covered with percaline, a thin resistant cloth, which can be illustrated and gilded.
Three main types of animal skin are used for leather bindings:
sheepskin, the cheapest and least resistant to rubbing;
calf, a smooth skin with a good resistance but of variable quality.
morocco (originally goat skin from Morocco), an attractive large-grained skin which is very resistant but expensive, reserved for luxury bindings.
In addition 15th and 16th century books may also be bound in scrolls or vellum, made of scraped and stone polished sheep or goat skins.
Starting in the 19th century, many books were bound in shagreen – originally donkey, mule, horse or goat skin ; resistant, gauffred with a small grained motif during its preparation, it was often used for publishers’ bindings at the end of the 19th century.