Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Happy New Year

My posts this year have been few and far between so I'm hoping to do better in 2010. Thank you to all my readers who have stuck with me and been so encouraging and kind with comments and support. Next year I plan to make a lot more books and to ensure that there are lots of book binding and book arts posts on my blog. And maybe a bit about gardening which is so important to my life.

After 11 months in my new home I'm still unpacking boxes - possibly a never ending story - and yesterday I unearthed two little volumes that have great appeal for me and I hope will be of interest to others. My photos are not great, I'm still struggling with the new "good" camera and suspect I was doing better with my little point and shoot, but I'm persevering. Just need to take time to read the instruction book I guess.

These two books are both in a very fragile state and I'll make conservation boxes for them rather than try to restore or mend them in any way. Their subject matter is similar, pressed flowers from the Holy Land. As I have no religious leanings in any direction I have bought them simply because I am fascinated that these flowers have survived in this form, and because I love the old illustrations.

This book is titled "Flowers and Views of the Holy Land. Blumen und Ansichten aus dem Heiligen Lande. Fleurs et Vues de la Terre Sainte. Jerusalem". Published in Jerusalem by A. Monsohn, after 1894. The size is 165x105x23 mm, landscape.

The covers are bevelled olivewood, with titled cloth spine, and the front cover is engraved with the title Jerusalem. The cover opens to the right and pages start from the left as in Hebrew texts. (I apologise if I put that badly.) The cloth spine is red and the endpapers are a faded red decorative paper. The title page is in English, German and French, and is surrounded by a decorative floral border.

This is followed by 12 pages of chromolithographed views of the Holy Land, with 12 pages of pressed flowers, each facing the town from whence they were collected. The views are Jerusalem, Zion, Mount Moriah, Siloah, Rachel's Tomb, Bethlehem, Hebron, Mount of Olives, Jordan, Jericho, Tiberius and Jaffa.
This is the city of Jericho.

These are the flowers from Jerusalem and Mount Zion. Faded but intact, as are all the others. Surprisingly, since the title page is in English, German and French, the text on the plates and on the flowers is in English, Hebrew and Russian.

From my reading I can see that there were other plates showing different cities and towns and these had the flowers relevant to those places, but each book was bound with 12 sets of illustrations and flowers, giving the edition some interesting variations. There is also a deal of difference in the olivewood boards, some having more decoration than mine, and at least one apparently bound in a western orientation and another with a leather spine. Another copy can be seen here.

My other little book is titled 'Flowers Plucked in "Those Holy Fields"'. Jerusalem. Printed at the Office of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. This book was "Arranged by Rev. A. Hastings Kelk, M.A. Christ Church, Jerusalem." The book isn't dated but from research it seems the date may be 1900. There are 28 pages, with the flower description and/or scripture reference on the left and the dried pressed flower on the right hand side. The cover is dark green 'leather look' paper, with gold decorative tooling and title on the front cover, and with yap edges. The cover is very battered with a piece missing from the back cover.


The flowers below are
'Artedia Squamata - The Madonna or Crown Flower"

"Reseda Alba - Wild Mignonette", "Scabiosa Palestina - Palestine Scabious" & "Puff Ball"
These books are not particularly rare and their condition reduces what value they may have had. The "Jerusalem" volume was produced as a souvenir of the Holy Lands and I suspect there are a good few stashed away in attics or chests, or even perhaps sitting on bookshelves, as mine soon will be. The other one, "Flowers", may not have been produced in quantity, though perhaps was sent back to England as a money spinner for the mission abroad. I don't know, but I find them quite charming in a purely bookish way. They're fragile and they're survivors - and I like that.