Monday, April 10, 2006

anthropodermic bibliopegy

Police plea on macabre book find

Police are trying to locate the owner of a 300-year-old ledger, bound in human skin, found in a Leeds road.

Written mainly in French, its macabre covering was said to be a regular sight during the French Revolution. In the 18th and 19th Centuries it was common to bind accounts of murder trials in the killer's skin - known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.

The book was discovered in The Headrow and may have been discarded after a burglary, detectives said.

-- from the BBC

I knew there was some dark undercurrent to the annual International Medieval Congress in Leeds. Now we catch a glimpse of just how necromatic it might actually be.


Heo said...

OK. I like creepy stuff just as much as the next person, but human-skin leather binding is just a little over the top.

Karl Steel said...

My revised and updated copy of the delightful, and puerile, and sometimes just bad Bizarre Books lists a copy of Paradise Lost bound in the skin of a murderer, George Cudmore. Bound in 1830, Albert Memorial Library, Exeter has it.

It also lists a copy of Mein Kampf bound in skunk skin.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Heocwaeth, I'm with you -- but there is something sickly fascinating about the subject. And I really like the word anthropodermic.

Karl: leave it to you to have further references on the topic that make it even weirder. And the Mein Kampf bound in skunk hide: priceless, just priceless.

Ancrene Wiseass said...

Nifty. Makes those "texts as bodies" arguments some scholars have been writing for the past couple of decades or so seem all that more compelling . . . .