WTF Fun Fact 12551 – The Six-Sided Book

A 16th-century book with a single binding is constructed so that it can be read in 6 different ways and contains six different texts. All six books are religious and were first printed in Germany in the 1550s and 1570s. Each book has its own tiny clasp closure.

Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, first discovered a type of book he dubbed a “Siamese twin” about eight years ago.

“The binding is called “dos-à-dos” (back to back), a type almost exclusively produced in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are like Siamese twins in that they present two different entities joint at their backs: each part has one board for itself, while a third is shared between the two. Their contents show why this was done: you will often find two complementary devotional works in them, such as a prayerbook and a Psalter, or the Bible’s Old and New Testament. Reading the one text you can flip the “book” to consult the other,” he wrote.

Check it out:

From the Folger Library

But when he posted about the 6-sided book, the oddity was picked up by a wide range of news sources. It’s an incredible piece of technology (a word we now reserve mainly for electronic capabilities).

It’s incredible what you can find in library archives!

The book was discovered in the National Library of Sweden. It is also referred to as a dos-à-dos, and Kwakkel states:

“Not only is it a rather old one (it was bound in the late 16th century), but it contains not two but six books, all neatly hidden inside a single binding (see this motionless pic to admire it). They are all devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s (including Martin Luther, Der kleine Catechismus) and each one is closed with its own tiny clasp. While it may have been difficult to keep track of a particular text’s location, a book you can open in six different ways is quite the display of craftsmanship.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “A Medieval Book That Opens Six Different Ways, Revealing Six Different Books in One” — Open Culture

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