An extraordinary early Victorian manuscript, exhibiting a clear High Gothic Revival influence, but stranger and more original.
Easily very good or better.
Expertly engrossed, this stunning abecedary features a variety of fantastic beasts (dragons, gryphons, sea creatures, birds, wyverns, snakes, salamanders, and the like) contorted and interlaced to form large calligraphic letters — usually two to a page, but with several full-page examples. This untitled work by an otherwise unknown artist was created for Sir Thomas Dick Lauder (1784-1848) — author, antiquary, and friend of Sir Walter Scott. More than tribute, however, this volume feels born of this same primitive Celtic impulse that yielded The Book of Kells, but with its Insular illuminations somehow filtered through M.C Escher by way of Game of Thrones. Quite simply one of the most spectacular vernacular books we've seen or handled. A tour de force.
Scotland: n.p, 1842. Folio. 16'' x 12''. Contemporary red morocco with large gilt Scottish coat-of-arms to both covers, with numerous additional ornate devices and fleurs-de-lys. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. Calligraphic and engrossed manuscript to fourteen leaves, rectos only, each signed at the foot. Plus preliminary dedication leaf. Housed in a custom archival clamshell box. Board slightly bowed. One leaf with short marginal tear (with very slight loss). Small scuff lower edge of top board. Mild wear. Minor expert repair.
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