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Reflections on Bindings: Using New Technology to Study Historical Bindings

A new exhibit, now on view in the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, demonstrates the use of an innovative technology called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), which offers scholars a new way to examine tooled bookbindings.

Reflections on Bindings: Using New Technology to Study Historical Bindings is curated by Christine McCarthy, Ansley Joe, Fionnuala Gerrity, and Karen Jutzi.

RTI is a computational photographic method that allows the capture of surface details that may not be readily discernible through direct examination of an object. The RTI image is built up through numerous photographs of an object, taken with a stationary digital camera and lit from different angles. The process is enhancing scholars’ understanding of materials as diverse as papyrus fragments and marble steles and within the library world it is aiding the study of illuminated manuscripts and bookbindings.

To demonstrate what RTI is able to reveal, four blind-stamped or tooled alum-tawed bindings were chosen from the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book collection. These volumes date from the 16th to the early 18th century. Read more at http://library.law.yale.edu/news/new-exhibit-reflections-bindings