The Macclesfield Alphabet

The Macclesfield Alphabet Book: a Facsimile, ed. Christopher de Hamel and Patricia Lovett

After reading Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts, I wondered what else de Hamel might have produced, and I found this neat book!  With the magic of InterLibrary Loan, it was soon in my hands.

This is a facsimile of an unusual manuscript.  It's not very long, and it dates from the late 1400s.  It's a sort of design or idea book for the fancy initials in illuminated manuscripts!  It contains fourteen different kinds of decorative letters: a sort of blackletter type, several with leaves, and some very whimsical alphabets made of human and animal figures.  Most aren't colored in or anything; they're diagrams.

It's a lot of fun to look at and full of great design ideas.  I'm very tempted to use some of them in embroidery, and maybe someday I will (I've got plenty to do right now).  If you're interested in lettering, this is a great resource!


  1. The British Library acquired this a few years back, and have put a scan of it online.

  2. Thanks for this spectacular find! The link to the British Library's online images is:

  3. Thanks!! I will use these, woohoo!


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