Saturday, July 20, 2013

Letters Out of Context

At the rare books collection in the University of Minnesota's Wilson Library, there's a set of sad but beautiful artifacts.

At some point in the late 19th century, a German collector cut the initial letters out of hundreds of old books and assembled them into binders the way a stamp collector would. This destroyed the books, of course. But brought together this collection, with notes on which book each set came from, which was recently donated to the library.

Here, with varying quality of photography (sorry about that!) are some of the ones that spoke to me.

First, the weirdest one I saw. An aardvark (?) playing the bagpipes:

Others range from people to allegories to animals to the beautifully ornamental:

It's a fascinating smattering of history adrift in four blue binders.

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