The Book of Ornamental Alphabets, Ancient and Mediaeval. From the eighth century with numerals, including Gothic Church Text, Large and Small; German Arabesque, Initials for Illumination, Monograms, Crosses, &c.
Oblong 8vo, 53 plates printed in various colors. Cloth-backed pictorial boards, in Very Good condition with expected rubbing wear to exterior and the faint outline of droplets on the covers. A halo of age toning throughout the textblock, but otherwise quite clean and fresh, printed in a variety of richly hued inks, to great graphic effect. An uncommonly nice copy.
Delamotte began designing and publishing books of alphabets for hand lettering around the 1860s, starting with these ancient and medieval alphabets and later expanding to more modern styles. The traditional European letterforms in this volume are decidedly more decorative and ornamental than the Prang and Esser alphabets published nearer to 1880, which were produced for more practical drafting and design. In contrast, these historical alphabets are culled from the fine arts of book and manuscript illumination, heraldic design, and other calligraphy practices in luxury and decorative arts in Europe since the eighth century.