Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Veiled in Vellum, Treasures Abound

Set of six 18th Century books bound in Vellum including The History of Alexander the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas' Doctor Anglicus Summa Theologica.

If you've ever had the pleasure of tracing architectural forms, grew up around draftsmen, or simply have a love of paper like I do you probably have filed away in your favorites list the opaque and gossamer-like paper Vellum. Similar in texture to tracing paper, vellum has held its place in our history for hundreds of years, acting as the primary repository for the important recordings of our history, the era, the day.

In this amazing structure of life, the Vellum of old was primarily made from calf's skin, or animal skin, that was cleaned, dried, stretched and shaved, and then treated to receive ink (modern vellum is made from cotton). I find such a tedious process a testament to the once-important meaning of the act of writing, of putting to permanence, events, times, people, places, feelings, sights, births, deaths, laws... in essence, who we are as a human race. Clearly vellum and parchment (a related paper from animal skin) have been instrumental vehicles in our innate need to create, express and document the human experience. Antique Books available from English Country Antiques in Bridgehampton, NY. $1,150.