Category Archive: Books

Researching precious manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford

For the past six months I have been engaged in a Fellowship at the Bodleian Library’s Centre for the Study of the Book, University of Oxford. I have been researching a stunning group… Continue reading

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The Book of Gold – an e-book available for sale

Over the years I have run a lot  of professional development workshops with artists, craftspeople, conservators and academics who wanted to learn the secrets of making finely ground gold pigments, such as was… Continue reading

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Visions of beauty and decadence: Rare publications illustrated by Jean de Bosschere

On the left is my small collection of first edition books illustrated by Jean de Bosschere, published by John Lane and the Bodley Head between 1923 and 1925. They measure approximately 10 inches… Continue reading

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Ingenious Machines Part 2: Harmonic Vibrations and Messrs. Newton & Co.

The ultimate study of the harmonograph and its history is provided in a book entitled “Harmonic Vibrations and Vibration Figures” published circa 1909, edited by Herbert C. Newton of Newton & Co., “Scientific… Continue reading

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Ingenious machines for drawing curves: The Archives

A frequent comment made by viewers of the Iron Genie harmonograph in action, is that it reminds them of the Spirograph. Most of us are familiar with this childhood toy, which consists of… Continue reading

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Pliny the Elder on metals, and a warning from the first century

My abiding interest in pigments and their sources has always been a catalyst for a much wider scope of interest, and in the raft of very human impulses that have shaped the history… Continue reading

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Antique Harmonograph Drawings

An artist who had seen some of my previous posts recently gave me a tip-off about an antiquarian harmonograph book at a local Bloomsbury bookshop …. need I say more? Of course I… Continue reading

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A Theatre of Machines

Bloomsbury is blessed with a wealth of superb second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, so it takes little encouragement for me to fuel my addiction to rare and interesting books. I recently hit a windfall… Continue reading

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Working with a Calligrapher in Cairo

Examining and re-creating an historical manuscript page is one of the best ways to understand the processes that went into its making, and one that I have employed several times in the course… Continue reading

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Preserving treasures in Cairo’s National Library and Archives

Update 23 Feb 2014: Thankfully the conservation staff at the National Library and Archives and the team at Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation have managed to save all the manuscripts that were on display, though… Continue reading

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The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

Some time ago I happened upon a venerable 1865 edition of Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament in an antiquarian bookshop, and after a month or so of obsessing about it, I decided to… Continue reading

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