Decorated Alphabet selection
While spending some time at St.Brides Library last week I took some photos of some historic decorative types. Seeing so many styles together, filled with such elaborate detail, it’s easy to glance over their characteristics. Here’s a few of the details I love most about them:
A: The decreasing sized As, alternately filled, provide a nice sense of depth yet the whole composition remains light. (From a sheet of beautiful 17th Century; initials)
S. This one has wings! (19th Century; American)
L: This inhabited initial not only appears to contain St. George and the Dragon, we’ve also got a plethora of small animals; goose, snail, squirrel, rabbit…The the top right terminal ends with a face. The devil maybe? (15th Century; French)
E: Almost psychedelic (17th Century; French)
M: There’s a strange creature gnawing at the bottom of this letter! (16th Century; Printed in Rouen by Martin Morin)
A: The one is drawn with pen and ink as a study aid. Beautifully composed out of the most complex interlocking shapes. (16th Century, Dutch, Aert van Meldert from ABC pour la jeunesse - “ABC for the youth”)
P: From a whole alphabet of vicious animals fighting each other. Who’s biting who? (Silvestre, 17th Century; French)
N: There are so many swirls to this inhabited ‘n’ the characters are off to play hide and seek. (17th Century; Italian; Alphabet by Vespasiano; Library of St. Mark’s, Venice)
R: Ultra Gothic: I’m not sure if the dragon is breathing out, spewing up, or eating this wonderful architectural monstrosity. (Calligrapher, Jean Midolle, 18th Century, Swiss)
Alphabet: Another by Midolle. As the name suggests they are supposed to look like jewels. (Jean Midolle, Monster Lapidary Alphabet, 19th Century, Swiss)
You can see more over on my Instagram page
Carol Belanger Grafton (Editor). Historic Alphabets & Initials, Woodcut & Ornamental,1977.
Midolle, Silvestre and others. Florid and Unusual alphabets,109 complete alphabets, 1976.