akenside book front face

This is the front face of The Poetical Works of Mark Akenside and J. Armstrong. This picture displays the red leather covering as well as the gold detailing around the perimeter of the book.

*For a more in-depth look, please click the picture*

Akenside book clasps

This picture displays the book's brass clasps located on the top corner of the book.


One of the most important aspects of creating a book is the binding. There is no book, in codex form, if the pages are not bound together. It would simply be plain leaves scattered around with no protection against the harsh elements or security to keep the pages in order. This specific book was bound using thread to secure each gathering and the leaves inside of these gatherings together.

In the first section, done by Akenside, the number of gatherings is indicated by the letters A-Y, while in the second section, done by Armstrong, the number of gatherings is indicated by letters A-H. The book was then held together by metal clasps at the top and bottom of the spine. The clasps are most likely made of brass or an alloy involving brass. Their purpose is to secure the outside covers to the rest of the book. Another reason as to why the brass clasps were added, was to prohibit the leaves of the book from either warping or wrinkling. Leather or a type of animal skin was dyed red and used for the front and back covers of the book. This cover was then bordered with gold detailing per request of the book owner.

An additional note is the type of book size, in other words, the determination of whether this book is a quarto or an octavo. A quarto is approximately a leaf size of 9 ½ inches by 12 inches, while an octavo is approximately 6 inches by 9 inches. So, the book size can be more easily determined by the size of the leaves and the possible amount of folds in the book. An octavo has a gathering of 8 leaves with 16 pages and a quarto has a gathering of 4 leaves with 8 pages.  All of these factors are important when determining the book size and gatherings, but the easiest strategy is to use the size of the book in comparison to the standard of the American Library Association or the Library Association of where the book was published. Through this way, I was able to determine that the book was an octavo.