Auction for human skin-bound book

A rare book believed to be bound in human skin will go up for auction in South Yorkshire, England on Sunday. This example of anthropodermic bibliopegy, titled "A True and Perfect Relation of The Whole Proceedings against the Late most barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and his Confederats," was printed in 1606 and is likely bound in the skin of the executed Jesuit priest, Father Henry Garnet, who is the subject of the text. From the BBC News:
Sid Wilkinson, from Wilkinson's Auctioneers, said: "It's a little bit spooky because the front of the book looks like it has the face of a man on it, which is presumed to be the victim's face..."

The lot is considered so unusual there is no reserve price attached to it.
Link to BBC News article, Link to auction site

Previously on BB:
• Books bound in human skin Link
• Human skin-bound book found in street Link

UPDATE: Thanks to BB community participant Evilrooster who found a great photo of the skin-bound book with the spooky "face" that has appeared on the cover. Link


  1. Morturom Demonto?

    “I know now that my wife has become host to a Candarian demon. I fear that the only way to stop those possessed by the spirits of the book is through the act of… bodily dismemberment. “

  2. True story: the BBC News article has a special link so that you can share this item with your Facebook friends.

  3. Bookbinding in human skin has a long history. The skin of executed criminals was often used to bind accounts of their trials, particularly for notorious cases.

    In France, there was a brief spike in the practice of human-skin binding after the Revolution. Germany also produced a few examples in the obvious time period, but by the 20th century it was generally considered a barbaric practice.

    I understand that, although human skin is often compared to pigskin, it is more like bookcalf to work with. The examples of it I’ve seen (mostly from one William Burke, formerly of Edinburgh) certainly look more like calf than any other bookbinding leather.

  4. Evilrooster, I have to respect genuine expertise.

    CarnyTrash, not so evil as all that. Martin Delrio vouched for him.

  5. There’s no picture of the book cover, I want to see the face! The article has a picture, but not really of the cover.

  6. Here’s a picture. It’s very, well, Shroud of Turin.

    The skin looks like it was thinned a lot in the tanning process, and is probably quite brittle. Whoever buys it is going to have to get some professional help caring for it. On the other hand, it’s already lasted a good long time, and the paper looks to be in worse condition than the outside.

    The book has what’s called a limp binding, by the way – the covers don’t have wood inside them. It’s a traditional way to bind with vellum, which was probably the closest thing to human hide the bookbinder had dealt with before this job.

    It would feel like a sturdy trade paperback book if you picked it up.

  7. Hey thanks! That is creepy. Ok, I can’t help but say that it reminds me of Army of Darkness’ version of the Necronomicon.

  8. The University of Georgia’s Rare Book Library has a book that’s supposedly bound in human skin.

    My roommate and I went to see it when we were looking for an excuse to put off studying for finals one semester. All you had to do was fill out some paperwork and they’d bring it out for you to look at.

    It was kind of unimpressive, but how many people can say they’ve held a book bound in human skin?

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