Friday, March 2, 2012

Casual Book Review, Flowers and Trees of Tudor England

Notice all the bookmarks sticking out of the top.  I reference this book often!

So, this is a casual (and by that I mean mostly unqualified) review of a very sweet book in my collection entitled Flowers and Trees of Tudor England.  I think I picked this up at a used book store a few years ago, but it might have been an antique mall.  I loved it immediately and therefore paid more than I normally do for a used book, I think around $10.  I have returned to this book several times for inspiration for various craft projects.  I really love the treatment of the trees.

A brief history of this book:
So this book is a collection of plates taken from a rare and fantastic manuscript dating from around 1504 called the Ashmole Manuscript.  This 16th century 'picture book' came onto the pages of history when it was acquired by a Mr. Elias Ashmole in the mid 17th century.  Mr. Ashmole married rich and was thus able to devote himself to the softer things in life: local history, alchemy, poetry.  His eclectic collection of 'curiosities' was first housed in his own museum, but has since been split between various museums and colleges over the centuries. 

The Ashmole Manuscript is both rare and a bit mysterious, as there is little text and no hints of original ownership.  Its exact purpose is not even agreed upon by scholars.  I like the theory that it was intended as a pattern book that artists could use as reference.  As in, "hmm, I can't quite picture what a cauldron looks like.. let me get my book."

So this manuscript has over the years gathered respect and acclaim as not only beautiful stylized depictions of plants and flowers, but also as a unique source of day to day objects commonly used in the 16th century.

My book, Flowers and Trees of Tudor England, is a partial facsimile of the original Ashmole manuscript, and was published in 1972.  It is slightly over sized (almost coffee table sized), but rather thin.  The paper is thick, and the illustrations are reproduced pretty nicely.  Not the best printing technique, but nice.  There is also brief accompanying text describing each plate.  For me it is useful for what I think was it's original purpose, as reference and inspiration!

**A note: I just installed a new photography app on my phone, so pardon all the effects!  The book doesn't have furled edges, it's actually a really nice copy!

The cover; the tattered edges is a camera effect.  The book is quite solid!

Dandelion and Sweet Briar

Box tree and Pomegranate

Apple tree and White poplar

There are some really nice photos of the original manuscript pages here.

If you want a copy of your own, visit my favorite site to buy books online,   Biblio Books.

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