The Gutenberg press liberated writing from handwriting and gave books unprecedented longevity. Many ancient masterpieces were lost to time and rot, but Gutenberg’s press preserved books for thousands of years. Some of the most important ancient works, like Aeschylus’ eighty plays, are still lost to time.
An illuminated manuscript is a book that is decorated by hand with gold, silver, and brilliant colors. These hand-painted books were often decorated with elaborate designs or miniature pictures. These books were most commonly created during the Middle Ages. The word illuminated derives from the Latin words manus, meaning hand, and scriptus, meaning writing. The rich colours of the paintings and decorations come from plant extracts, gold leaf, and other materials that the artist may have used.
During the Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts were commonly used as visual aids during religious services. They also served as daily devotional tools for monks, nuns, and lay people. They were called liturgical manuscripts and included items such as the Missal, Breviary, Psalter, and Antiphoner. These books were typically owned by a church, which would share them with its parishioners. Depending on their function, different manuscripts contained different prayers and verses.
A notable example of an illuminated manuscript is the Book of Kells. This book, which is a compilation of texts and illustrations, features a cycle of months. Each month is accompanied by a lunette with a calendar and zodiac sign. This illumination is extremely detailed, and the aristocratic court life of the time is captured. Many of the illuminated manuscripts also depict scenes of farming and harvests.
Parchment was a great writing material for many centuries. The material’s use peaked during the medieval period, but it has recently been revived by artists. In the past, parchment was the primary material for governmental documents such as diplomas. However, by the Renaissance, parchment was no longer the most popular medium for artists.
The process of writing on parchment involved several steps. The paper was first cut into large rectangular sheets. The sheets were then passed through the hands of scribes, who rubbed them with chalk, pounce, and pumice. The process was repeated several times for each page, but each page was a unique work of art.
Before the invention of printing, people wrote on parchment by hand. Parchment books were written in different styles. One style is called majuscule, while the other is known as uncial. Some medieval manuscripts were written in uncial, while others were written in cursive.
In the pre-printing age, books were written on vellum, a fine skin made of animal hide. The material was used as a substitute for papyrus, which was in short supply. During the medieval era, the popularity of vellum increased. Its use was most prominent in manuscripts and illustrated books. Vellum can endure up to 1,000 years.
Books that were written on vellum are rare and expensive. They were once limited to a select few people. They were also usually a great deal thinner than they are today. In addition, vellum was difficult to preserve and often warped. A recent restoration has restored some of these manuscripts, but they are unlikely to be read by the general public.
In addition to books, vellum is also used in the production of official documents. For centuries, the British government used vellum to print legal documents. In fact, the House of Lords debated removing the material from printing laws, but the Cabinet Office sourced funds from its own coffers to continue the tradition. Despite the price, vellum is not used for everyday documents, but is still used for special editions or important documents.
Paperbacks are small, inexpensive books. Especially popular in Africa and developing countries, they were widely available, and could be found in newsstands, pharmacies, and street kiosks. These books were cheap because of the vast number of copies printed. They cost 65 cents to $1.25, and were widely distributed.
In the 1950s, the paperback book industry faced several issues, including censorship. In the United States, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials investigated the paperback book industry and issued a report critical of Gold Medal for publishing lesbian novels. While the committee did not make any formal moves to censor paperback books, industry leaders did try to curb sexual content. Some books were recalled, and reissued under new covers. Censorship also occurred at state and local levels.
The paperback was first printed in 1939. Robert de Graff, the owner of Pocket Books, had been working in the book industry for 14 years. He believed that there was a need for inexpensive books in the United States. While driving to work one day, he had an idea. He decided to publish 25-cent paperbacks. He named the company Pocket Books, because the books were small enough to fit in a person’s pocket.