Tag Archives: books

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800-Year-Old Doodles in Some of the World’s Oldest Books

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Doodle by bored medieval school boy. A 15th-century doodle in the lower margin of a manuscript containing Juvenal’s Satires, a popular classical text used to teach young children about morals. Photo: Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 368.

For the past few years, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel has been poring over some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts at Leiden University, The Netherlands, as part of his ongoing research on pen trials. Pen trials are small sketches, doodles, and practice strokes a medieval scribe would make while testing the ink flow of a pen or quill. They usually involve funny faces, letter strokes, random lines, or geometric shapes and generally appear in the back of the book where a few blank pages could be found. Kwakkel shares via email:

From a book historical perspective pen trials are interesting because a scribe tends to write them in his native hand. Sometimes, when they moved to a different writing culture (another country or religious house) they adapted their writing style accordingly when copying real text—books. The trials, however, are done in the style of the region they were trained in, meaning the individuals give some information about themselves away.

In some sense, these sketches are like fingerprints or signatures, little clues that reveal a bit about these long forgotten scribes who copied texts but who had no real opportunity to express themselves while working. Including additional sketches or even initials in these books was often forbidden.

While many of Kwakkel’s discoveries are standard pen trials, other doodles he finds relate to a human concept as universal as topics discussed in these 13th and 14th century books such as love, morals, or religion. Specifically: boredom. It seems the tedium of reading through a philosophy textbook or law manuscript dates back to the very invention of books. Some of these scribbles were even made hundreds of years after a book’s publication, suggesting no margin is sacred when monotony is concerned.

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Medieval smiley face. Conches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 7 (main text 13th century, doodle 14th or 15th century).

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Doodle discovered in a 13th-century law manuscript (Amiens BM 347).

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Students with pointy noses. Leiden, University Library, MS BPL 6 C (13th century).

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL MS 111 I, 14th-century doodle.

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Leiden UB VLQ 92

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800 Year Old Doodles in Some of the Worlds Oldest Books history books
Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century).

Lucky for us, Kwakkel has left a trail of ancient doodle discoveries all across the web on his Twitter account, his Tumblr, and on his recently established blog medievalbooks. His obsession with margin minutiae has lead to two scholarly publications and also caught the interest of NPR’s ‘How to Do Everything‘ who interviewed him last week. All images courtesy Erik Kwakkel, respective of noted libraries.

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Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Ryan Rubino

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Tobias Buckdahn

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Ekow Nimako

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Chris McVeigh

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Jordan Robert Schwartz, Sean and Steph Mayo, Chris Maddison

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Brian Kescenovitz

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books
Ekow Nimako, Tyler Halliwell

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark, a New Book about the Dark Side of LEGO by Mike Doyle Lego books

LEGO artist and author Mike Doyle (previously) just announced a macabre sequel to his wildly popular 2013 book, Beautiful LEGO, titled Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark. The new book examines the darker, disturbing side of brick building with 325 pages of LEGO creations organized into chapters like Creepy Crawlers, Evil Attunement, Dark Towers, Indulgences, Pits of Fire, and Riot Girls. In total, the book contains the collected work of 140 LEGO enthusiasts from around the world. It’s currently available for pre-order.

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Banksy’s ‘Better Out Than In’ New York Residency is Now a Book by Ray Mock

Banksys Better Out Than In New York Residency is Now a Book by Ray Mock street art New York books
Re-Photo by Jaime Rojo for Brooklyn Street Art

Banksys Better Out Than In New York Residency is Now a Book by Ray Mock street art New York books
Re-Photo by Jaime Rojo for Brooklyn Street Art

Banksys Better Out Than In New York Residency is Now a Book by Ray Mock street art New York books

Banksys Better Out Than In New York Residency is Now a Book by Ray Mock street art New York books

If you enjoyed Banksy’s wild romp through the streets of New York last year as part of his ‘Better Out than In’ residency, the entire 31 days is now meticulously documented in this new book from photographer Ray Mock. Available now from Carnage, Banksy in New York features over 120 photographs and illustrations organized day by day during the course of the artist’s New York escapade. Only 2,000 copies were printed and they’re selling quick. See more over on Brooklyn Street Art. (via Brooklyn Street Art)

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Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Lucie Houdkova

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Andrée-Anne Dupuis-Bourret

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Marine Coutroutsios

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Alexander Korzer-Robinson

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Geraldine Gonzalez

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Mia Pearlman

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books
Cecilia Levy

Paper Play: A New Book About the Art of Papercraft from Gingko Press paper books

Just published by Gingko Press, Paper Play is a new 256-page book exploring the use of paper in contemporary art and design. The book features no less than 82 designers and artists who use paper in sculptures, jewelry, street art, installations and everything else you can imagine. I started listing out all the artists we’ve featured here on the Colossal who are included in the book, but it got a bit unwieldy after a dozen. Pick it up here.

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Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette: An Interactive Shadow Picture Book silhouettes shadows kids books

Motion Silhouette is an interactive Japanese children’s book by Megumi Kajiwara and Tathuhiko Nijima that includes pop-up silhouettes in-between pages. As a light source is directed toward either side, a different moving image is projected on the page to help tell the story. Fun! Motion Silhouette is a sequel to an earlier book by the duo titled, simply, Silhouette. The books are made to order by hand (for about $60), and you can inquire through their website. (via KYOT∆®)

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New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

New Paintings on Salvaged Books by Mike Stilkey painting books

Artist Mike Stilkey uses the covers of books reclaimed from library trash heaps as a canvas for his whimsical paintings. He works with a mix of ink, colored pencil, paint and lacquer to create each artwork that can vary from anthropomorphic animals playing instruments to portraits of men and women inspired by Weimar-era German expressionism. Elements of his playful and at times emotionally exaggerated style have been compared to Edward Gorey and Egon Schiele.

The Los Angeles-based artist credits an immersion in skateboard culture during much of his youth as the beginning of his artistic career, as he simultaneously became exposed to graffiti and street art, though he received no formal training. His work has since been exhibited throughout the United States as well as internationally in galleries, museums, and libraries.

Stilkey most recently had a solo show at Gilman Contemporary in March, and had several pieces on view through BDX-LAX Faraway So Close, a cultural project that promotes contemporary art between sister cities Bordeaux and Los Angeles. You can learn more about his work in this three part video interview from Fully Booked (Part 2, Part 3), add see much more over on Facebook. (via Lustik)

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The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

The Mini Book of Major Events by Evan Lorenzen illustration books

Trying to compress the history of Earth into a single book is an especially daunting task, the difficulty is compounded when the book you’re writing is the size of a nickel and is limited to just a few pages. Oh, and it needs lots of pictures. Lucky for us, illustrator Evan Lorenzen was up to the task and identified a few pivitol moments in history which he turned into this extremely tiny hand-bound book. You can see more of his miniature books over on his Tumblr. (via F*ck Yeah Book Arts)

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