Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: The Sheldon Tapestry Book Cover, 1615

Tapestry Book Cover
Sheldon Tapestry Works, 1615
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Books in general, until recently, were highly-valued objects which were treated with the utmost respect. Most upper class Seventeenth Century households would proudly display and protect their precious books, especially the family Bible. The expensive and intricate bindings of books were often protected with ornate covers made from a variety of materials.

This book cover dates to about 1615 and is constructed of a particularly expensive bit of tapestry. Tapestry, though more costly, would have worn better than the more common embroidery protective covers. The tapestry was professionally made of silk and metal thread and is adorned with biblical scenes.

Made in Warwickshire, England, by the Sheldon Tapestry Works the cover’s front shows a square cartouche depicting “Moses and the Burning Bush,” with the presence of God indicated by the word DEUS which appears in a cloud. A similar cartouche graces the back and shows Jonah emerging from the Whale. A golden star surrounded by a cloud adorns the spine.

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