Houghton Library, Harvard University’s library for rare books and manuscripts, has actually two books that are bound in human skin!
The most disturbing one is Arsène Houssaye’s book called “Des destinées de l’ame”. The book, which deals with meditation and life after death, was bound with the skin from the unclaimed body of a female mental patient.
Inserted in the volume is an autograph manuscript note written by Dr. Ludovic Bouland, a friend of the author:
“This book is bound in human skin parchment on which no ornament has been stamped to preserve its elegance. By looking carefully you easily distinguish the pores of the skin. A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering: I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman. It is interesting to see the different aspects that change this skin according to the method of preparation to which it is subjected. Compare for example with the small volume I have in my library, Sever. Pinaeus de Virginitatis notis which is also bound in human skin but tanned with sumac.” (the article continues after the ad)
Even though this may come as a surprise to a lot of people, books bound in human skin were once common. For example, during the 16th century, the confessions of criminals were occasionally bound in the skin of the convicted, or an individual might request to be memorialized for family or lovers in the form of a book.
Harvard holds one more similar book: the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine holds a French translation of “Ovid’s Metamorphoses” which also has an anthropodermic binding.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Story Of The Brutal Contest To Kill 100 People By Using Only A Sword
Source: Houghton Library Blog
Photo: Houghton Library Blog
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