Book covers

A codex is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials, with hand-written contents. The book is usually bound by stacking the pages and fixing one edge, and using a cover thicker than the sheets. While the codex was ubiquitous in the west from the 5th century onwards, the oldest extant western binding encloses the St Cuthbert Gospels, c. 700.

The earliest codices had simple, not very durable binding. A sturdier type was developed in the Carolingian period which was in use (and of course evolving) from the 8th through to the 12th centuries in Europe. For codices ordered or owned by rulers and rich monasteries, luxurious jeweled book covers were produced by goldsmiths and ivory carvers. Some these book covers survived, a prime example is the cover for the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Book cover
850-69
Ivory
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

812*1300
True Color
218 Kb



Book cover
c. 810
Ivory
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

850*1160
True Color
232 Kb



Book cover
c. 810
Ivory
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

855*1200
True Color
231 Kb



Book cover
c. 810
Ivory
Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican

749*997
True Color
190 Kb



Book cover
870
Gold, gems and pearls, 420 x 330 mm
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

800*1002
True Color
245 Kb



Book cover
850-1000
Ivory
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

811*1300
True Color
194 Kb



Book cover
850-1000
Ivory
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

800*1322
True Color
223 Kb



Book cover
10th century
Ivory
Universitätsbibliothek, Frankfurt

586*1700
True Color
231 Kb



Book cover
982-83
Ivory
Musée National du Moyen Âge, Paris

700*1215
True Color
139 Kb



Book cover
c. 1010
Ivory, precious stones
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

726*1000
True Color
177 Kb



Book cover
c. 1000
Gold, jewels and ivory, 334 x 242 mm
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

917*1200
True Color
231 Kb



Book Cover
1190s
Wooden core, silver, 30 x 23 cm
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig

800*1086
True Color
188 Kb



Book Cover
1260s
Silver and gilt, 39 x 27 cm
St. Paul, Lavanttal, Carinthia

650*927
True Color
201 Kb



Book Cover
1339
Wood with miniatures, rock crystal, 35 x 26 cn
Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin

750*973
True Color
194 Kb



Binding of a Book of Hours
1533
Silver
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

1000*1063
True Color
184 Kb



Cover of the Gospels of Henry the Lion
1594
Silverwork, 340 x 255 mm
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

959*1200
True Color
218 Kb




Summary of illuminated manuscripts (miniatures)
Pre-Romanesque period
701-750 | 751-800 | 801-850 | 851-900 | 901-950 | 951-1000
Romanesque period
1001-1050 | 1051-1100 | 1101-1150
Early and High Gothic periods
1151-1200 | 1201-1250 | 1251-1300
Late Gothic and Renaissance periods
1301-1350 | 1351-1400 | 1401-1450 | 1451-1500 | 1501-1550
Illuminations by known masters
List of illuminators