Allison’s Dork moment #1: Tree Calf Binding

Though the photo is faint, I hope you can see what I’m excited about: the stain in the form of a tree on this leather binding.

Tree calf became popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was made by running water down the binding so as to look like a tree trunk and branches, then alternately throwing ferrous sulfate and pearl ash onto it, which, when they react with one another in the water, form a dark gray stain.

In my opinion, it’s one of the most eccentric manifestations of the book, and I always get a thrill out of finding a tree calf binding.

See other examples online:
http://www.oldenglishbindery.com/images/tree.jpg
http://scholar.library.miami.edu/bound/graphics/img21mr.jpg

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