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Monthly Meeting-Margit Smith on The Medieval Girdle Books (Free, Open to Public)

  • La Jolla Riford Library 7555 Draper Avenue La Jolla, CA, 92037 United States (map)

It is a special thrill to handle and examine books spanning the early 14th to the late 16th centuries, to feel, touch, smell, listen to their history, and to realize that our current desire for instant access to information can be traced to these objects. Girdle books were always with the owner and could be used without being removed from the belt. 

Margit will explain her initial fascination with the girdle book format and how she came to dedicate fourteen years to exploring its history, construction, use, and symbolism. She will share two girdle books she made herself, as examples of the two types that remain from the Middle Ages.

The extreme rarity of the girdle book, often not recognized even by people who deal with rare books, prompted her decision to document and describe the known twenty-six girdle books still in libraries, museums and private collections. Margit received permission to examine them all. They are located in nine European countries and three libraries in the US, and she was able to take photographs in most cases.