Case Two

The early printing of the mid-15th century copied the hand-written books of that time in text and appearance. Abbreviations used by the scribes to save parchment were used for a while by printers, until they found that the large number of types needed was more expens

ive and time-consuming than the extra paper or parchment needed.

They also followed the scribal custom of leaving a space for the insertion of illuminated capitals and decoration, so that the purchaser could employ an artist to custom-decorate it. This custom, too, soon declined.

Another interesting feature of early Bible illustration is the artist's indifference to historical accuracy. The mediaeval illustrator displays no sense of difference in time or culture. For example, in the Swiss-German Bible shown here, Biblical events are depicted in mediaeval dress and surroundings.

About the end of the 15 century printing from engraved metal plates was developed and it gradually superseded the woodcut. Etching and copper engraving became important in the 17th and 18th centuries.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Illustraited text
Fust & Schoeffer Psalter
Open book with text
Tyndale Bible
Single page with text and illustrations
Swiss-German Bible
Zürich, C. Froschouer, 1560
Pen illustration
The Royal Bible (Howard's Bible)
London, 1762

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