• Books Bound in Human Flesh

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    The Associated Press (via Boston.com - sorry for the registration requirement) is reporting that several major libraries across the country have books bound in human flesh as part of their special collections. Most of the books are medical texts and are many hundreds of years old. One particualar mention caught my eye:

    The Boston Athenaeum, a private library, has an 1837 copy of George Walton's memoirs bound in his own skin. Walton was a highwayman -- a robber who specialized in ambushing travelers -- and he left the volume to one of his victims, John Fenno. Fenno's daughter gave it to the library.

    You can see a copy of this volume by going to Boston Anthenaeum website here. In addition to a long, in-depth article on the book and it's history, they provide the complete text of the book itself. I didn't realize so many libraries had books of this type. Apparently, they are accepted into the library collection if they are books that further legitimate scholarly research. It gives me the creeps, but I think it would be a fascinating experience to see the Walton book in person. Here's another interesting article via the Harvard Law School on these creepy "anthropedermic" bindings. Including a speculative history of the practice of using human skin to bind books. Apparently, it gained popular credence during the French Revolution where copies of "The Rights of Man" where bound in flesh. Probably one of history's more ironic moments. The article also covers the "lampshade myth" from the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War. There is a short, but interesting bibliography at the end of the article.

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