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Investigating the Book

SPECIMENS of

            ILLUMINATED

                 MANUSCRIPTS

Specimens of Illuminated Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, from the sixth to the sixteenth century, was printed in London in 1853. Henry Noel Humphreys, the author, wrote and compiled many works that focused on manuscripts and their culture, as well as biology and archeology, striving to understand the world from many different angles. 

To investigate the cover, hover over the book and click within the highlighted areas, whichever interests you first, or start scrolling. Use the arrows to move within the book or select a page below.

 

EMBOSSING

The title for this book has been done by combination embossing, which means that a sheet of gold leaf, in this case, has been placed between the cover and the slug of letters in the embossing machine, or possibly on the binder's tool. All decoration would have been done before the cover was on the book-block. 

Based on the designs attached to the ends of each S on Specimens, this title was probably cut as one die, to be placed in the slug as one piece rather than pieces of individual type, as was usually the case. Note also the unneeded period at the end of manuscripts.

 

To learn more about the process of embossing, click on the button below. To see a similar example on the same book, scroll down.

 

STAMPED COVER

Blind stamping is basically the same as any other embossment process, just without anything between the cover and the embossing tool. "Blind" means that it leaves an impression in the book cloth but is a subtle and clean decoration, beautiful and creative in itself.

If you look closely at the cover you can see a faint design of intersecting swirls and circles, making an almost leopard print effect. This would have been stamped onto the smooth cloth cover before the bookblock was glued in with its endpapers, giving the cover a unique kind of texture and character that most covers were not able to deliver.

To learn more about the process of stamping, click on the button below. To see a similar example on the same book, scroll up.

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