One of Owen Jones most interesting illuminated books is his 1849 edition of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes published under the title The Preacher, consisting of 35 hand-colored, fully illuminated pages. It is one of the most poetic and most often quoted sections of the Bible, presented here in a somewhat modernized text of the King James version.
“Vanity of vanities saith the Preacher. Vanity of vanities all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun. One generation passeth away, another generation cometh: but the Earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about toward the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”
Possibly an ironic chocie of verses for a work so lavishly decorated that it might be considered vain.
Stylistically the design is similar to Jones’ illustrated edition of Gray’s Elegy with similar lettering and foliage motifs. But unlike Gray’s Elegy which features a limited set of standardized page frames, each page in The Preacher is a completely unique design with custom decoration tailored to the text. This makes it more challenging to extract elements for use in other projects, but we have preserved all the complete pages as well as selected decorative elements and usable pages. Also included in the package is a complete high-quality ebook of The Preacher and digitally cleaned and corrected copies of all the pages in high resolution.
There are also design elements in common with Jones’ Illustrated Initials from Early Manuscripts, particularly some of the highly intricate feathery design embellishments accompanying the illuminated capital letters. The fascination with this sort of illumination is a peculiar characteristic of Jones’ work and it is shown off to extraordinary effect in The Preacher.
You can download a PDF preview of selected pages from The Preacher to take a look at selected illuminations. The package also comes with the complete ebook of The Preacher in PDF format. The complete package can be ordered for just $49 from our ONLINE STORE and downloaded right away. We also now offer a combined package of all of our current Owen Jones collections at a substantial discount.
In the mid-19th century Owen Jones undertook to catalog historic design and decoration in phenomenal detail and with exacting thoroughness in a series of beautifully illustrated books. The most famous of these is his Grammar of Ornament, which provides an overview of design and ornament from ancient times to the Renaissance. His next most notable work on historic design is his collection of Illuminated Initials from Early Manuscripts, a magnificent work on historic calligraphy and illumination which we are now making available in digital form, prepared with the same kind of care and attention to detail as our digital edition of the Grammar of Ornament.
The collection consists of all the original illustrations in the Jones book, including hundreds of initials and decorative calligraphic letters. It includes a large selection of ornate initials from different historic periods, plus several complete historic calligraphic alphabets and a selection of decorative borders and embellishments. The designs are extraordinarily detailed with brilliant colors and include examples of illumination from the early medieval period through the gothic period of the high middle ages, including outstanding Celtic, Gothic and Frankish styles.
You can see some samples of individual initials of several different styles here, or click on the sample page to the right to download a PDF with reduced-size versions of all the pages from the original book. The PDF can give you a good idea of the content of the collection, but not the quality of the images in the full package, which are in high resolution and large size with vivid colors and painstaking digital clean-up and color adjustment. These are great examples of the highly detailed, full-color initials which look great, but just can’t normally be turned into fonts. With a few exceptions, as the package also includes a bonus – two original fonts based on alphabets from the collection, Alcuin and Leodegar.
The complete Illuminated Initials from Early Manuscripts collection is available for purchase online and can be downloaded or delivered on CD for just $69 from our ONLINE STORE.
Our next addition to our selection of Jones design packages is a mammoth undertaking of all of the decorations, initials, emblems and borders in his early illustrated edition of J. G. Lockhart’s Ancient Spanish Ballads, a rare work which has an amazing selection of antique-style decorations with a Spanish or Moorish theme. Every section has its own unique border design and each chapter features unique decorative initials, section headers, fully illustrated pages and marginalia. It isn’t hand tinted or painted like some of Jones’ other books, but the sheer number of decorations is unbeatable.
Because of the characteristics of the printing and the higher acid content of the paper the images are requiring a lot of processing. Combine that with the large number of images and the preparation of the package is taking longer than is typical. We expect it to be ready sometime later in the summer, once we’ve had a chance to process and clean up all of the images. For now, here are a few samples to give you an idea of the content. You can click on any of them to see it in a somewhat larger size.