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 left 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.

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