Miniature books, which typically measure less than 3 inches (76mm) in height, have been around since the written word was developed: first with cuneiform clay tablets, then hand-written manuscripts. The introduction of the printing press and moveable type printing in Europe, in middle of the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg, set the stage for the first early printed books known as incunabula. Surviving editions of miniature incunabules are very rare treasures with only a dozen still in existence today. The new printing process made the production of miniature volumes a challenge to all involved – not just the printers themselves, but also the paper makers and book binders. Readers were also confronted with issues in the reading and handling of these tiny tomes as the size of type and pages kept getting smaller. So why print them? Continue reading →
In the 18th century the science of ornithology and the art of bird illustration began to advance rapidly together, with an increasing number of beautiful and informative books on birds being produced. Prior to this, books on botany were more … Continue reading →
Arthur Rackham, the fourth of twelve children, was born in Lewisham on 19th September 1867. His father wanted him to have a career in business and he began as an insurance clerk, but attended Lambeth School of Art in the evenings, having won prizes for drawing at school. In 1892, after having illustrations published in the The Pall Mall Budget over the course of the previous year, he took a job there, moving to the new Westminster Budget the following year. After just a few years he was able to become a self-supporting book illustrator, also contributing to The Westminster Gazette and magazines such as Little Folks and Cassell’s Magazine, a career which continued until his death from cancer on 6th September 1939.
This self-portrait is the frontispiece to Derek Hudson’s biography of Rackham, published in 1960.
Detail from Allegory on the Abdication of Emperor Charles V in Brussels by Frans Francken II (1581-1642) oil on panel. (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
Exotic shells from the Dutch Colonies inspired many painters during the era of European exploration and discovery. The perfection and beauty of their forms and colours could be seen in shell cabinets and in wonderfully illustrated books on natural history such as those in the Fagel Collection. This library belonged to the Fagel family of the Netherlands and is now part of Research Collections in the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Continue reading →
One of my favourite aspects of work in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is the opportunity to hold and examine so many wonderful and diverse books. When I was returning a book to the Quin Case a few days ago, I picked one out to look at because of its beautifully decorated spine – many of the books bequeathed to the College library by the wealthy graduate Henry Quin (1760-1805) have fine bindings. The boards, endpapers, fore-edge and text turned out to be equally attractive. The book in question was Quin 43, a 1786 printing of the story of Daphnis and Chloe, bound by Christian Samuel Kalthoeber of London. A German by birth, Kalthoeber emigrated to England where he became apprentice to his compatriot Johann Ernst Baumgarten, taking over his business in 1782. Continue reading →
The Chinese court official Ts’ai Lun (often written Cai Lun) is credited with the invention of paper in 105 A.D., although he and his countrymen were almost certainly experimenting for some time before his announcement of their success to the emperor. The manufacturing process did not change much for hundreds of years, until the invention of suitable machinery in the nineteenth century, and is still used to some extent to produce hand-made paper today. Continue reading →
As Preservation Assistants, we help address some of the challenges and problems affecting the books of the Long Room in the Old Library. The collection of some 220,000 Early Printed Books range from the dawn of the printing press in the 1450s and incunabula, to the end of the Victorian era. A systematic preservation project, beginning in 2004 as ‘Save the Treasures’, is ongoing today. The focus of the project is on the cleaning of the books, and the recording of data for use by the Preservation & Conservation Department. We note key information about each book: where and when it was printed, the materials from which it is made, features of the bindings, and so on. We also carry out a condition report, and note any stabilising treatments we carry out in situ. Continue reading →
Spring is here and time for a close-up of some of the spring flowers blossoming in the Fagel Collection – the former library of the Fagel family of the Netherlands, which is now part of the Research Collections in Trinity College Library. Continue reading →
As the Early Printed Books reading room opens at 10am daily, and department staff are here earlier than that, the hour between 9 and 10 can be used for class teaching, and we welcome this opportunity to share our collections with a wide range of undergraduates and postgraduates. A member of EPB staff will give an introduction to the reading room and our reference collection if required, then the group tutor is free to teach using original materials which students might not otherwise see.
If you are a lecturer and would like to use these resources, please contact the department on ext.1172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a suitable date.
Following the Long Room display ‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ in February 2017, we are delighted to launch the online version of the work, in conjunction with our partner Google Cultural Institute. The exhibition is one of a series of events taking place in Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.
The exhibition features the illustrated title page of The Great Bible (1540) which shows, under the eyes of God, Henry enthroned distributing God’s word to Cranmer (on his left) and Cromwell (on his right). Below this, Cranmer and Cromwell, hand the Bible to a priest and a nobleman. Below that again is a rabble of ordinary (though well-dressed) people shouting ‘Long live the King’ and ‘God save the King’. Strikingly, the Bible seems not to have made its way into their hands – none of these lesser individuals holds ‘Verbum Dei’.