Thursday, July 30, 2009

Macclesfield Alphabet Book Stays in UK

The British Library has been successful in raising the £600,000 that will keep the Macclesfield Alphabet Book - a lovely little "font sample" manuscript from c. 1500 - in the British Isles.

The Guardian reports: "The 46 leaves of parchment may have been a demonstration of a luxury book workshop's skill, ready to show off to a potential customer, or a complete pattern manual for a craftsman to copy. It contains gold embellished borders, title pages, and 14 alphabets wreathed in flowers and foliage, made up of humans or serpents, fish, dragons and other animal figures." A BL curator described the manuscript as "the most complete set of designs for manuscript decoration known to have survived from late-medieval Britain."

Unknown until it was discovered in the Macclesfield Library (presumably during preparations for one of the recent sales), the manuscript was purchased after a lengthy public appeal for funds, and with the support of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Beginning today, the Alphabet Book will be on display in the BL's Ritblat Gallery.

More from The Guardian, Rare Book Review. There's a picture here [via Laura]

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