Macclesfield Alphabet Book

Macclesfield Alphabet Book

England (United Kingdom) — 1425–1475

Macclesfield Alphabet Book

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Macclesfield Alphabet Book

The Macclesfield Alphabet Book is the most complete surviving pattern book from medieval England and contains 14 different types of decorative alphabets. Aside from alphabets in Gothic script, one alphabet features initials with faces while others have foliate, zoomorphic, and anthropomorphic initials. Two different types of borders are also presented, some fully colored and illuminated with gold leaf. Other features of the manuscript include sketches and drawings featuring grotesques and other figures, a list of names from Adam to Zacharias, a drawing of an uprooted tree with a shield inscribed “R.B.”, and a colorful emblem with three flowers and two gold gloves. The manuscript was created ca. 1490 and was part of the library of the Earls of Macclesfield from ca. 1750 until 2009 when it was acquired by the British Library for the princely sum of £600,000. It was likely used as a sample book for potential customers in an atelier producing manuscripts. Very few books of this type have survived to the present and offer precious insights into the process of manuscript production as well as being a valuable tool for research in art history and material culture studies.


Alternative Titles
Macclesfield Musterbuch
Baldry Pattern Book
Size / Format
92 pages / 25.0 × 17.5 cm
Littera Humanistica
14 different sample sets of initials and letters in alphabetical order

Available facsimile editions:
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Macclesfield Alphabet Book

Commentary: 1 volume by Christopher de Hamel and Patricia Lovett
Language: English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
You might also be interested in:
Model Book of Calligraphy
Model Book of Calligraphy
Vienna (Austria) – 1596

Created for Emperor Ferdinand I: a beautifully designed overview of the sophistication of Northern Renaissance calligraphy

Experience More
Benedictional of St. Aethelwold
Benedictional of St. Aethelwold
Old Minster, Winchester (United Kingdom) – 970–984

One of the finest specimens of Anglo-Saxon manuscript art: a wonderful hybrid of Carolingian and Insular art from Winchester

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection