A font library from the past

The Medieval version of a font library found in a 500 year old book, that was probably used as a sample book of alphabets, is now on public display. The Macclesfield Alphabet Book from the 1500’s has been acquired by the British Library.  Its existence was unknown until recently, having been in the family library collection since 1750.  It has 14 different alphabets illustrated decoratively with human faces and other embellishments.

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Dr Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, said:

“The acquisition of the Macclesfield Alphabet Book is tremendously exciting, as it is the most complete set of designs for manuscript decoration known to have survived from late-medieval Britain. The ‘abcs’ are wonderfully illustrated – including letters formed using animals and people – and I hope that those who go to see it on display at the British Library will be captivated by its inventiveness, and that researchers will begin an interesting debate on its origin, models, and function.”

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maccalphbook

(information and images gathered via artdaily.org and today’s press release from the British Library)

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. 

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