About a month ago I participated in a workshop about the single quire Coptic books that were discovered in 1945. There were 13 of these books stashed in a jar in Egypt since the 3rd or 4th Century! These books are often called the Nag Hammadi codices. There is a previous blog entry about the workshop.
So this was the next project on my list of historical bindings to do, and I just finished making three of them.
I used leather splits to make these books so they actually have suede covers. The two dark brown books are made with a deerskin split. The white one is a sheepskin split. A leather split is a layer taken off the hide so it is suede on both sides and these ones are quite thin so it worked well for these books.
The covers on the original books were lined with papyrus to stiffen the covers. I didn't have any papyrus, so these are stiffened with just heavy paper. And I used some great Japanese papers as end papers pasted down on the inside of the covers. The best thing about these, is the single quire. The text block is just one thick stack of paper folded in half. These each have 40 sheets of paper (compared to 8 that I normally have per section). I pressed these for a week to get them to stay folded satisfactorily.
I have just two more bindings left on my list of historical bindings to do...