While researching book bindings for a project, I’ve been coming across these gorgeous embroidered book covers and bindings from the 16th and 17th century. Thought I’d make a blog post out of these exquisite works of art.. The original scans for the books are scattered throughout The British Library Database of Bookbindings. I’ve just selected, cropped, and optimized them. The larger size originals are in a flickr set so that all the amazing details can be seen and are worth clicking through and taking a good look at.
Embroidered satin book with floral motif. The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London, 1639)
Embroidered velvet book with scroll and floral pattern. Orationis Dominic: explicatio (Geneva, 1583)
17th century embroidered satin book with pictorial angel and trees. The Whole Booke of Davids Psalmes (London, 1634)
Embroidered Canvas book, pictorial angel and floral motif with two red ribbons. The Booke of Common Prayer (London, 1611)
Now this was a lot of fun to discover. I purchased an old leather sewing kit. It was in excellent shape and apparently had nothing inside it except a rusty threaded needle and brown paper padding at the bottom. However, there was something quite interesting and well hidden wrapped in that plain brown paper.
Mixed media art by Mother Nature in fungus on tree bark. Found in our wood pile and almost tossed into the fire.
“We now come to a beautiful and loquacious race of animals, that embellish our forests, amuse our walks, and exclude solitude from our most shady retirements. From there man has nothing to fear, their pleasures, their desires, and even their animosities, only serve to enliven the general picture of Nature, and give harmony to meditation.”
Yet another lovely and very old book I recently added to my collection is the third volume of Oliver Goldsmith’s An History of the Earth and Animated Nature which although available online through the much appreciated resources of the Internet Archive has unique and unmatched appeal as an actual object aside from reading, at least in my opinion, always being much more enjoyable from the page than it is from the screen.
The copy in my hands was published and bound in 1795. It has a badly deteriorated binding and cracked spine with it’s pages intact although a few are loose. On the opposite page of all illustration plates, there is an intriguing left impression of ghost images which have faded to a pleasing sepia tone and are really quite beautiful in their own right. I’ve always loved the language in which natural history book of this period are written and that this author refers to various species of animal as “their kind.” Various kinds of bird and amphibious creature are covered in the present volume.
Here is a passage on the Dodo. The author writes as though this species is still around at the time of publication. Whether that is true or not, his description gives some indication as to the reason for the poor bird’s past or future extinction. I’ve included photographs of the text. Larger more readable versions of all pictures are viewed by clicking through to my flickr account.