The majority of books in the Liddel collection are still in their original, contemporary bindings. Limp vellum and vellum over pasteboards are the main coverings found in the bindings of books in the Liddel collection. Liddel’s copy of De revolutionibus that contains the Commentarioluswas, until quite recently, bound in limp vellum.
Books which are easily identified by their bindings as being Liddel’s are those bound in fragments of manuscript. Some are completely covered with pieces of manuscript vellum and many more which contain manuscript fragments or pieces as part of the spine, supports and pastedowns. Many of the fragments are liturgical in nature, some with music. These coverings are typically used for many of Liddel’s collections of shorter pamphlets and theses bound together in one volume.
There is a great deal of uniformity in many of the bindings which may indicate that they were bound together around the same time. Certainly it looks as if some were bound after they were annotated by Liddel as some of the annotations are cropped. This may indicate too, that Liddel himself chose which papers and pamphlets were bound together. It may even be fair to speculate that this form of temporary binding was used to bind the books to enable their transportation to Scotland.
The bindings do not show the Liddel library to be that of a rich bibliophile. There is no evidence that outward beauty of the books overly concerned him. His was a working library and the content seems to have been his prime concern. It can be effectively argued that he did not collect books for their value or appearance. What the bindings do, however, is to firmly place his library as one of Northern European origins.
Liddel owned books bound in more permanent and typically Northern European bindings: wooden boards with blind tooled pigskin covers. Some, such as the four folio volumes of Galen’s Works, are very fine examples of this type of binding. The Galen volumes have elaborate ‘portrait’ bindings and have stamped portraits of Duke Julius of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his son Heinrich Julius reinforcing the link, if it were needed, between Liddel and his patrons.