A scroll is a rolled book form that predates the codex, or bound book. Ancient Egyptians created scrolls from papyrus reeds, but animal skin, especially parchment and vellum, and other organic materials have also been used in various civilizations and times.
Though the codex overtook the scroll as the more common book form in about the first century CE, the scroll is a format still used in Jewish traditions.
Seen here is a Megillat Ester, or Book of Esther, from the Hebrew Bible. This scroll is Yemen in origin and dates to around the 17th century. The Megillah is constructed of pieces of parchment sewn together. As with most scrolls, the writing appears on just one side of the writing surface.
Palm Leaf Book | Non-Codex Book Form
In South and Southeast Asia, palm leaves, primarily from either the palyra or talipot trees, have been a popular writing medium for over two thousand years.
The manuscripts, which can record literary and scientific texts among other documents, are typically created by using a metallic stylus to etch letters into the dried leaf. The contrast and legibility of the script is enhanced by applying lampblack or turmeric mixed with aromatic oils chosen for their insect repellent qualities.
Very little is known about the example seen here, though it is indicated to be a Buddhist text from Myanmar likely from the 19th century.
Printing Press | Printing
In the 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica there are over sixteen pages devoted to the printing entry:
…the art of printing, in whatever light it is viewed, has deserved respect and attention. From its ingenuity of contrivance, it was ever excited mechanical curiosity; from its intimate connexion with learning, it has justly claimed historical notice; and from its extensive influence on morality, politics, and religion, it is not become a subject of very important speculation.
The revolution of printing sparked by Johannes Gutenberg (circa 1400-1468) and his adaptation of the hand-press, metal moveable type, and ink was an all-encompassing intellectual, social, scientific, economic, religious, and cultural revolution.
Like the press seen in the upper left corner here, Gutenberg’s hand-press was made of wood and was likely modeled on winepresses, a connection visible here with the printing press positioned next to a cider press demonstrating their technical similarities.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature. Edinburgh: Printed for A. Bell and C. Macfarquhar, 1797.
Musical Notation | Typography
Printing musical notation began in the mid-15th century, with the earliest examples of printed liturgical music appearing in Germany shortly after the publication of the Gutenberg Bible.
Early 16th century printed music placed the stem at the center of the note; however manuscript notes had stems either on the left or the right, following the scribe’s preference. Musical type mimicked the scribes practice, however in ensuring that the type pieces could be invertible the foundries inevitably standardized the side of the note the stem appears on (down stem on the left, up stem on the right) and gradually manuscript music began following the same conventions.
A label, usually made from paper, pasted into a book identifying the book’s owner. The practice of marking ownership in books dates to the Middle Ages (if not earlier); the first printed bookplate dating to the mid-15th century. Ex Libris, a term often interchangeable with bookplate, is Latin for From the Books of. Bookplates typically bear a name, motto, device, coat-of-arms, crest, badge, or any motif that relates to the owner of the book.
Bookplates are valuable tools in studying the provenance of books but have also been avidly collected as their own objects of interest since the mid-19th century. In this scrapbook of collected bookplates a variety of styles are on view, including a bookplate designed by artist Rockwell Kent.