Personal Copy Book Class Handout
Elizabeth de Nevell
What form did copy books exist in the Middle Ages?
Detailed instruction on how to create
illuminated elements such as the Gottingten Model Book. It
helped the scribal apprentices learn the basis of design before
being expected to create original pieces on their own.
This book of designs could be shown to
wealthy patrons so that they could chose the motifs which would
then be placed into their manuscripts. This helped the patron
choose the stationer with which he wanted to work, and gave the
artists a solid point of reference in what was expected of them
A version of the pattern book that would
hang on the wall in the scriptorium, or sometimes be used as an
advertisement to attract students to a writing master.
Many people from all walks of life kept
commonplace books. They would contain tidbits of information,
quotes, recipes and knowledge passed on to them by others.
Frequently in these books you can find formal alphabets, and
capital design for personal use.
How can these tools help you as an SCA scribe?
Time Management - In using elements
that you are familiar with you have a better sense of how long a
piece will take, and by having these elements in one place it
saves you the time of searching through your library for the
example or documentation.
Convenience - Rather than carrying
around a bulky Portfolio all the time, a small personal copybook
will allow you to carry examples of your work along with you in
a more convenient manner.
Ideas for your Copybook
Lombardic Capitals – Frequently found from
the 11th – 16th centuries used on their own as versals,
decorated with filigree, whitework, and historated by
miniatures. Keeping a set of these in your copybook gives you a
sound foundation to a wide variety of designs.
Filigree Work – from Bess’ personal
copybook, drawn from period examples.
Illumination elements from period
Personal Sketches from Nature
"Exemplum" by Robert W. Scheller,
Published by Amsterdam University Press, 1995. ISBN:
"French Painting in the time of Jean de
Berry" by Millard Meiss, Published by George Braziller,1974
"Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of
Work," by Jonathan J.G. Alexander, Published by Yale University
Press in 1992, ISBN: 0-300-05689-3.
The Oxford Companion to the English
Language, © Tom McArthur 1992
accessed November 2002
Drogin, Marc; "Medieval calligraphy It’s
History and Technique"; Dover Publications, New York, 1980
Harris, David; "The Art of Calligraphy"; CK
Publishing Inc., New York, 1995
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