With introductory chapters from Christopher de Hamel and Patricia Lovett
The Macclesfield Alphabet Book is an exquisitely beautiful 15th-century manuscript, made in England. It contains 14 different types of decorative alphabets. These include an alphabet of decorative initials with faces; foliate alphabets; a zoomorphic alphabet of initials, and alphabets in Gothic script. In addition there are large coloured anthropomorphic initials modelled after 15th-century wood-cuts or engravings, as well as two sets of different types of borders, some of which are fully illuminated in colours and gold.
Initially it was thought to be a 'model book', used by artists for the transmission of ideas to assistants, or as a sample book to show potential customers. But, as Christopher de Hamel and Patricia Lovett show in their introductory essays, this assumption must be questioned: the Macclesfield Alphabet Book is an enigmatic album, possibly a friar's personal commonplace book.
The manuscript was acquired by the British Library in 2009. It had been in the library of the Earl of Macclesfield since about 1750, and until recently its existence was completely unknown.
This great little book starts with a 14 page introductory chapter from Christopher de Hamel where he describes the discovery and the background of the original manuscript and gives and gives an in depth account of facsimiles of the 46 folios that are reproduced in this book.
Patricia Lovett then discussed The Practitioner’s View and covered the types of tools, the skills, as well as the problems, and some probable solutions to these problems, that the scribes of the day needed to overcome.
This is a very enlightening volume and would be a useful resource for anyone studying manuscripts.
1st edition, 2010, hardback, 122pp, 18.5 x 26.6cm