From ancient times to the creation of eBooks, books have a long and vast history that spans the globe. Although a book may only seem like a collection of pages with words, they are also an art form that have survived for centuries. In honor of National Library Week, we couldn’t think of a more fitting book to share than The Book: A Global History. The slideshow below highlights the fascinating evolution of the book.
Origin of the alphabet
The proto-Sinaitic theory of the origin of the alphabet. Line drawing by Chartwell Illustrators.
A composing frame with two sets of cases of type: the upper case lies at a steeper angle than the lower case. By permission of Oxford University Press.
Illustrations of runic stones
Illustrations of runic stones from the Danish scholar Carl Rafn’s ‘Runic Inscriptions in which the Western Countries are Alluded to’, in Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, 1848–9 (Copenhagen, 1852); the variety of languages is notable. Private collection.
Some cuneiform (wedge-shaped) signs, showing the pictographic form (c .3000 BC ), an early cuneiform representation (c. 2400 BC ), and the late Assyrian form ( c .650 BC ), now turned through 90 degrees, with the meaning. Line drawing by Chartwell Illustrators.
Modern casebound Book
Diagram of the structural features of a modern casebound book ready for casing in (adapted from Gaskell, NI ). Line drawing by Chartwell Illustrators.
East Asian book forms
Traditional East Asian book forms. A (top): scroll binding: 18 th -century printed Buddhist sutra (Japan). B (2 nd from top): pleated binding, 17 th -century printed Buddhist sutra (Japan). C (3 rd from top left): butterfly binding: 16th -century Buddhist MS (Japan). D (3 rd from top right): butterf19ly binding: contemporary printed book bound in traditional style (China). E (bottom left): wrapped back binding with original printed title label: 17th-century printed book (China). F (bottom centre): thread binding: 18th-century printed book (China). G (bottom right): protective folding case, MS title label: early 20th century (China). © J. S. Edgren
Pica italic matrices
A box of John Fell’s pica italic matrices, with some steel punches for larger capitals beneath them. By permission of Oxford University Press
Medieval European bookbinding
The basic structural features of a European bookbinding in the medieval and hand press periods. Line drawing by Chartwell Illustrators.
In celebration of National Library Week we’re giving away 10 copies of The Book: A Global History, edited by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H.R. Woudhuysen. Learn more and enter for a chance to win