How long for binding/illuminating?

The extended Quality rules in Covenants (p. 88) talk about the need for skilled scribes, bookbinders, and illuminators for making high-quality books. The amount of time it takes a scribe to copy a book is in the RAW (ArM5, p. 166). How long does it take for a binder to bind a book? How long does it take for an illuminator to illuminate a book?

Dunno if it is in the rules, but I would say that binding AND illuminating takes a season. Illuminating is time consuming, but not as much as writing beautifully. I might be awfully wrong though, since this is pure gut feeling. :slight_smile:


I think that gut feeling (or someone's historical knowledge, if we're lucky) is probably all that we have to go on here. Thanks Xavi. Anyone else out there have a gut feeling?

I can confidently say that binding a book takes a few days atmost*. In fact, I dare say that a skilled bookbinder could bind at the very least 1 book/day, provided he starts with all the basic parts (like the boards) ready for the binding. Of course, if you want your book covers to be jewel-encrusted, painstakingly enameled etc. etc. well, preparing that can take a lot of time, but I'd say it's not the job of the book-binder.

As for illumination, I agree with Xavi, it could take a long time, but probably not more than writing.

Hmm? What kind of binding is that? I dont know which sort of binding was the "most standard" at gametime but the ones i can find descriptions of how its done include things like "let the glue dry overnight" and things like that...

Letting the glue dry overnight isn't exactly taking the bookbinder any extra effort though - on that basis you could still bind five in five days,

In a traditional scriptorium the bidingand illuminating is done at the same time - pages are passed around various people and assembled at the end. Od course, in a traditional scriptorium people are not generally writing new books, just copying very very old ones.

I seem to remember reading somewhere in the printed literature something about a wizard who writes on wax tablets then passes the pages to the scribes etc. I see no reason to add additional time to illuminate a text as it is being copied provided you have the skilled people in your scriptorium.

I had some tiny experience of this as one of the libraries I ran several years ago had a bindery attached. Although most things were, of course, assisted by precision tools & machinery some work was still done by hand. Even the most careful hand binding is unlikely to take more than a week and that would involve a lot of waiting for things like glues, materials & inks to dry - other work could be undertaken in the same time. In Ars Magica terms where we measure seasons a single binder could accomplish the task in an irrelevant period of time, and could quite literally bind dozens of texts. This, of course, makes no reference to resonances which are completely outside of any real world experience and can take as long or as short as magic does... especially hermetic magic which seems to be, at least in part, astrological.

That sounds more real. The impression i got about it was 3-15 days (but few or no actual times or day count included anywhere) depending on size, type of binding, skill, degree of "perfection" etc etc...

Hi. I'm a french bookbinder and I can say it take around 1 week for to bind a book. But in middle age I suppose it take 2 weeks.


A&A page 124 lists an illuminated manuscript as taking a base time of one season, according to the artwork rules.

Illumination is much more time consuming than scribing, because you have to lay out your drawing, trace them, paint each color (and let each dry before continuing), do shading, whitework to enhance the images, then do gold leaf, etc.

Overall, it takes about 1 to 3 hours to scribe a page (depending on how skillful you), while illumination can take 1 to 3 days per full page. Of course, if you only add small illuminated highlights on most pages, it is quicker.

So a full season for illuminating one tractatus seems reasonable. A high-level summa could take year or more. Scribing is probably about a month per tractatus, with a high-level summa taking a season or more.

(My wife does calligraphy and illumination as a hobby in the SCA. She easily spends 10 hours on a simple 1-page document. Very complex ones can take 100 hours or more.)

I'm willing to guess it also might take a bit longer if you're trying to incorporate strange elements into the bookbinding, like dragon-hide or mermaid-skin. >.>
Because magi are weird folks.

Also, you'll need to factor in the manufacturing of any tools and materials that cannot be purchased. I imagine that illuminators prepared pigments and binders probably prepared glues as part of their workday.

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Yeah in this case, I guess a month is good (if you have all materials)

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