Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

The art of binding books in human skin.
Yes that’s right, human skin; it’s not just in the realms of horror that a book is bound in the flayed skin of a human being, it was quite the fashion statement in the late 16th, early 17th century and continued right up until the mid to late 19th century with many examples coming from executed criminals.
The practice seems to be inextricably intertwined with the practice of tanning human skin after a cadaver had been used for dissection purposes, however and why ever it happened there are still examples of Anthropodermic Bibliopegy around today.

In June of 2014 Harvard University confirmed that a book in its possession was, with 99.9% certainty was indeed bound in human skin.
Houghton Library’s 19th century copy of the French writer Arsene Houssaye’s “Des destinees de l’ame” was given to a friend Dr. Ludovic Bouland who had the text, described as “a meditation on the soul and life after death,” bound in the tanned skin of an unclaimed female mental patient who had died from a stroke.
Bouland left a note in the volume explaining what he had done.
“A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering,” he wrote.


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