Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: Books Bound in Human Skin and the Stories Behind Them


Three examples of anthropodermic bibliopegy from the John Hay Library. Bottom, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, a 16th century book on human anatomy; middle, Hans Holbein's Dance of Death, binding by Zaehnsdorf; top, another copy of Hans Holbein's Dance of Death, binding by Cox. Photo: Daniel Smith

An illustrated lecture with collector, bookbinder, and proprietor of Strike Three Press, Daniel K. Smith
Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 8:00
Admission: $8
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Due to their macabre and grisly nature, anthropodermic bibliopegy-or books bound in human skin-have been treated as curios and overlooked as objects of serious study. Most were created as examples or warnings, but some specific titles were sought out to be rebound in human leather by faddish collectors. Daniel K. Smith has examined, photographed and researched examples at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, The Grolier Club and The John Hay Library at Brown University, and found fascinating histories that illuminate worlds as diverse as grave-robbing, the King of Belgium, New England highwaymen, and the 19th Century Parisian aristocracy. Please join us tonight as he shares the fruits of his research in this lavishly illustrated lecture.

Daniel K. Smith is a collector, bookbinder, and the proprietor of Strike Three Press, which publishes limited edition books. Dedicated to maintaining traditional hand binding and printing methods, Strike Three Press publishes the work of American illustrators. The most recent effort is a book of portraits of blues musicians by Joe Ciardelio. Letterpress printed and hand-bound edition of 64 copies it was reviewed in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual 52 and part of the permanent collection of Ringling Bros Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Strike Three Press books are in the permanent collections of Haverford College, Schromberg Center of The New York Public Library, and Denver University.

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