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Posts Tagged ‘manuscripts

“Design is the intermediary between information and understanding”*…


graphic design manuscripts

Pages depicting flasks of urine for diagnosing disease, from The Twenty Jordans (MS. Ashmole, 1413). The pictures run across facing pages, so that you can compare samples easily (courtesy Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)


Designing English: Graphics on the Medieval Page at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries examines the how the creation of early English books, from their hand-written language to the bindings themselves, can be viewed as pioneering graphic design. Whether a hunting manual with ages of deers described through illustrations of antler growth, or an elegant 15th-century copy of The Canterbury Tales where borders and titles guide the reader through the text, these manuscripts grappled with engaging their readers through their visual design.

“We’ve deliberately used the term ‘design’ which wasn’t used in our sense during the Middle Ages,” Dan Wakelin, professor of medieval English paleography and curator of Designing English, told Hyperallergic. “First, the term ‘design’ helps us appreciate the creativity of the past. Medieval craftspeople left us few records of their own thought processes, so we often need to use our own terms when we try to reconstruct them. The term ‘design’ brings to light aspects of the thoughtfulness and ingenuity behind medieval manuscripts and artifacts which we might otherwise miss.”…

How early English authors and scribes worked to communicate: “How Medieval Manuscript Makers Experimented with Graphic Design.”

* Hans Hofmann


As we lay it out, we might recall that it was on this date in 1878 that the first telephone directory was issued. Consisting of a single piece of cardboard, it listed 50 individuals, businesses, and other offices in New Haven, Connecticut that had telephones.  There were, as readers will note on the photo below, no numbers, as callers had to be connected by an operator.

oldphone source


Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 21, 2020 at 1:01 am


It’s that time again:  your correspondent is headed into his annual Holiday Hiatus.  Regular service will resume early in the new year.  In the meantime, with great thanks for your kind attention through this last year, and high hopes for the next, a little something to occupy one until the Big Day:  from the incomparable Bodleian Library, their treasure-filled 2012 Advent Calendar.

(And for a somewhat wonkier– and wonderfully weirder– Christmas countdown, see The Economist‘s “Graphic Detail” Advent calendar.)


As we pause to spare a thankful thought for libraries, we might note that this is the date– this very date, this year– that, for better or worse, the world is not ending.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

By hand…

1905. Einstein’s original “EMC=2”… Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy-content?
(Albert Einstein Archives, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

“The start of visionary works before they enter main stream consciousness”: The Origin, a collection of manuscripts of genius…

1843. Dicken’s original manuscript for A Christmas Carol.

1816. Beethoven’s original Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101.

2006. Jack Dorsey’s original concept for “Stat.us,” which became Twitter.

1940. Milt Kahl’s original sketches of Pinocchio.

Many more at The Origin.  More still at the self-explanatorily-named Fuck Yeah, Manuscripts!


As we concentrate on our cursive, we might send carefully-circumscribed birthday greetings to Thomas Bowdler; he was born on this date in 1754.  A  physician and philanthropist, Bowdler is better known for publishing  expurgated editions of English classics, edited by his sister Henrietta Maria Bowdler, intended to be more appropriate for 19th century women and children than were the originals… to wit the eponym “bowdlerize,” referring to the prudish censorship of literature, motion pictures and television programs.

Bowdler’s most famous publication [note the spelling of the Bard’s name– sans a presumably offensive “e”]


Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 11, 2012 at 1:01 am

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