In this era of instantaneous communication and mass produced objects, a handwritten book is a rare and wondrous item.
Originally, all books were in handwritten manuscript form. In China, and later other parts of East Asia, Woodblock printing was used for books from about the seventh century. The earliest dated example is the Diamond Sutra of 868. In the Islamic world and the West, all books were in manuscript until the introduction of movable type printing in about 1450. Handwritten manuscript copying of books continued for at least a century, as printing remained expensive. Private or government documents remained hand-written until the invention of the typewriter in the late nineteenth century.
Today, technology has made it easier to reproduce documents and books at a much faster pace. However, the look of calligraphy and hand-drawn lettering is becoming increasingly popular compared to the rigid and sometimes, impersonal feel of digital typography. These selected books from the Artists’ Books Collection highlight hand-drawn typography from England, Germany, France & the United States.
The display case is located across from the circulation desk as you enter the library. Pages will be turned frequently to reveal other examples within each book.