Weird Books

29
Jun

The Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle – title page

Bookselling / Weird Books

Whilst at an Auction viewing in Cambridge yesterday I came across the The Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle. I had to take a picture.

The Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle title page

‘OUT OF THE WAY!’

Tremendous.

29
Jun

The Black Hours – Books written on black Pages

Bookselling / Weird Books

Towards the end of the fifteenth century the Dukes of Burgundy and their court developed a penchant for books of hours produced on black vellum. Of these peculiar books only four are thought to have survived. The Morgan Library have released an electronic tour of their copy here.

The Black hours manuscript

The Morgan Library Black Hours


Black took on great significance in Burgundy when Duke Phillip The Good, unable to avenge the assassination of his father, began wearing the colour in pointed protest towards those he believed responsible. He is said to have cut a striking figure, clad in the latest flamboyant fashions yet always totally black. Naturally the colour became popular amongst the Burgundian court, its use extending to devotional books.

The Black Hours Vienna CodexTo create the black page parchment was bathed in an iron-copper pigment and then illuminated with silver and gold gilt. The work was done in Bruges by Flemish craftsman, apparently in the workshops of Willem Vrelant and The Master of Anthony of Burgundy.

These ‘Black Hours’ are masterpieces of medieval illumination – they are also profoundly weird. Much like Duke Philip, they bear familiar motifs yet are inverted; the illumination is brighter, the images more sinister.

The difficulty in producing these books meant that few were made and fewer still survived. The extant copies are in precarious condition. If the electronic version above is not enough the German publisher Facsimile Verlag produced a 2001 facsimile. The run was limited to 300 copies and I could only find one – at no small price.

The Black Hours Facsimile, available at AbeBooks from £7500…

29
Jun

Crime and Punishment – Squinting and Befuddlement

Weird Books

Last weekend I was in Warwick. In addition to seeing a Trebuchet launch a fireball one hundred feet into the air, I also saw this charming Sangorski & Sutcliffe binding of Watership Down in the excellent Duncan M.& V. Allsop.

It reminded me how pleasant it can be to find a beautiful edition of one of your favourite books.

Today I saw this…

crime and punishment funny pic