Endbands, often called headbands, are elements adhered or sewn on at the head and tail of the textblock spine, often slightly hidden under the headcaps of the covering leather. In medieval bindings, and on later bindings of higher quality, endbands were labor-intensive, carefully worked structural elements. Through the fifteenth century at least, endbands were sewn onto a core material, the ends of which were laced into the boards along with the sewing supports. This technique provided additional strength to the binding at the head and tail of the joints. In the best work, endbands are frequently "tied down" to the textblock, providing a firm anchorage across the spine. Binders quickly found ways to economize in making endbands. They decreased the number of times the sewing thread tied the endband down into the textblock, and the core around which the endband was sewn was often cut off at the joints, eliminating the step of lacing it into the boards. By the nineteenth century, except in more expensive bindings, endbands were little more than decorated pieces of fabric glued onto the head and tail of the textblock spine, providing little structural strength or durability.
Italian, sixteenth century
The endbands are tied down with painstaking work on this binding.
Author: Chrysoloras, Manuel, ca. 1350-1415
Title: Erotemata Guarini cum multis additamentis.
Published: Ferrara,Italy, 1509.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 2512.415
Spine height: 17 cm

German, fifteenth century
Leather plaited endbands are sometimes found on early German bindings. The plaiting was added after the leather covering was applied to the binding.
Author: Jacobus, de Clusa, 1381?-1465
Title: Sermones Dominicales notabiles.
Published: Blaubeuren, Germany: Conrad Mancz, ca. 1475-1476.
Location: Rare Books: Incunabula Collection (ExI)
Call number: Oversize BX1756.J3 S47 1475q
Spine height: 28 cm

Belgian, seventeenth century
Blue and white linen over cord.
Author: Emmius, Ubbo, 1547-1625
Title: Rerum Frisicarum historia.
Published: Leiden, Netherlands: Louis Elzevir, 1616.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: Oversize 1591.324q
Spine height: 36 cm

Another view of the previous binding.

English, eighteenth century
Silk endbands.
Author: Lucretius Carus, Titus
Title: Titi Lucretii Cari De rerum natura libri sex.
Published: Birmingham: John Baskerville, 1772.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: Oversize 2881.1772q
Spine height: 30 cm

German, sixteenth century
Endbands tied down infrequently through parchment strips lining the textblock spine.
Author: Prosper, of Aquitaine, Saint, ca. 390-ca. 463
Title: Opera.
Published: Cologne: Hero Alopecius, 1540.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 2910.1540
Spine height: 16 cm