Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Marvelous Manuscripts

This article showed up on my Facebook feed about a 16th century book made of 6 different volumes bound together into a single item. The book is owned by the National Library of Sweden. I went browsing their Tumblr account and found some absolutely gorgeous old books and I seriously just had to share them.

1. Embroidered cloth binding: This is probably my favourite item they've got on display on their tumblr. Not only is the spine (pictured here) beautifully embroidered but the entire cover is. In addition the page edges are etched and coloured and look simply amazing. The gallery for this book is here.

2. Papier mache and plaster binding: This book is a 19th century creation imitating a medieval style of binding. Its very detailed and incredible really even given its slightly more modern creation. More images of this book here.

3. Filigree silver binding: This binding is seriously awesome. The book is from the 1690's and the craftsmanship is kind of epic. I think the result is gorgeous. More pictures here.

4. Blind-tooled binding: Blind-tooling as I understand is like a method of stamping or branding, a heated metal tool is used to press designs into the leather binding. This item is from the mid 16th century and is really beautiful. More pictures here

5. Codex Gigas: Its not all about the outside being beautiful! An unbelievable amount of effort went into making the insides beautiful too. This is a photo of one of the pages of the Codex Gigas, a European text of unknown age, although it is known to predate 1295, which is the first record of it changing hands. Texts like this overwhelm me. Its mindblowing to think about all the ways in which the world has changed, all the people lived and died and ages passed by, while this book continues to survive. Its just amazing. There are more photos of this book here and more information about it here.

I know this post is a little bit on the special interest side, but I'm hoping everyone can get on board with appreciating the time and effort that went into producing books back then. It wasn't like today where machines print everything quick as a flash. Back then hours and months and years of work were required to produce one single manuscript, and you can really see the blood, sweat and tears that went into every item. They're awesome... and I mean that in the annotative sense of 'inspiring awe'. I would strongly encourage everyone to have a squiz through the National Library of Sweden's Tumblr or you can find out more about their collections on their website.

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