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the book collector was made for the ‘virtuosa e gentile donna Lady Wantage’ on the Kalends of November AD 1904. She was so pleased with it that she paid him 250 lire more than he had asked.31

Several common prejudices about women owners of books in fine bindings ought to be discarded. Not all were royal or aristocratic ladies, although many examples of their libraries have survived. Women did not own only religious or pious books in fine bindings, nor were finely bound Bibles and Prayer books made only for women. Women as well as men could be learned and both sexes possessed the sources of their knowledge well bound and on occasion beautifully embellished. They also read for pleasure and out of general interest. The finely-bound copies are of course only the tip of the iceberg, as the great majority of readers (male and female) would pursue their text in simpler trade bindings. Women may have liked ‘pretty’ books, but so did men. Where they differ is that no evidence has survived of men actually wearing a small bound book as personal adornment. But, on the whole, women owners of fine bindings were not all that different from men in their taste.

31. Nixon, “Binding Forgeries”, International Congress of Bibliophiles, Vienna September 29-October 5, 1968,Lectures, (Vienna, 1971), p. 72; for Joni and his work, see Foot, Studies, Op. cit., no. 52.


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