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.


  1. fascinating that pressed flower books existed and have survived so well

  2. Perhaps of no great monetary value, but lovely things to have, Carol.

  3. Sometimes, "value" and "value" are not the same in a material world. These relics move me, especially the first one. Such a treasure -- and a witness of a mostly vanished European jewish culture. Although familiar with antiques to a certain degree, I have never seen a book partly in German that is read from right to left.

  4. What lovely old treasures, Carol. It is wonderful that the pressed flowers are still in such good condition. Where did you find these books, and how long have you owned them?

  5. Hi, Just wanted to say how much pleasure your blog has given me in the past and I am delighted to see you back online again. Wishing you a very happy and creative New Year.


  6. Happy New Year Carol!

    Some books are priceless to their owners at least. I think you have some treasures here. Will you make boxes for them?

  7. The top book confused me a little - binding on the right side, same as Japanese books, too, if the writing is from top to bottom!

    Thanks for showing these to us.

    And may 2010 be a lovely year for you and your loved ones, Carol.

  8. How fascinating! I've never seen such books, and really appreciated all that your wrote about them and all of the detailed photographs! Were the flowers preserved in some way when they were attached to the pages? I can't imagine that they would last all these years without some form of preservation, but I know so little about this book stuff, so I'm relying on you to tell me. I love the way the book reads from right to left, and the rosewood cover is fabulous.
    Welcome back to blogland Carol!

    Happy New Year to you and yours!


  9. Hi Carol

    What beautiful books, their illustrations and contents are in good condition considering their age.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog, and for your support during 2009.

    Sending you very Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

    Billie xx

  10. What lovely books, Carol. Thanks for showing them to us. How fortunate that the flowers remain in good shape.

    With respect to your unpacking, I'm on the opposite end. We've bought a new home, and I'm in the throes of packing. I don't even want to think about the "un" just yet. Simply packing up my studio seems like it will take forever. I haven't had the nerve to tackle it yet.

    Best wishes for the year to come. May it bring you much joy.


  11. Old books are valuable for so many reasons but even aside from 'value' they're just fantastic to be around - their smell and feel somehow evokes all the hands they have been through. These two are real treasures. Thanks for showing us.

  12. what little treasures! thanks for sharing - and happy new year to you carol xx

  13. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Eva: I think it reads from right to left because it was published in Jerusalem, but then I did see a copy that read from left to right. Perhaps they were put together differently to suit their customers.

    Meg: The text goes from left to right, not from top to bottom.

    Amanda: I bought the one with wooden covers at an auction years ago and didn't pay much for it, though I can't remember how much now. The other I bought a couple of years ago at Berkelouw's Book Barn in Berrima for $20, as is only too visible on the title page.

    Judy: I imagine the flowers were simply pressed then glued in. It's amazing they have remained almost completely intact, considering how battered both books are.

    I too, find these little books quite moving. I like to think of someone collecting the flowers, pressing them, and in the case of the Jerusalem souvenir, lovingly arranging the flowers. I'm so pleased you all liked them.

  14. How beautiful! And Happy New Year to you too! I'm leaving a comment under the spider bit - too scary!

  15. I wanted to send you an email but there was no one available. Here is the letter:

    Dear Carol,

    I thank you for your comment and sharing with me your own trials and tribulations.
    Though my reply needs to be brief for the moment, I wish to extend my gratitude for having added one of my blogs to your blog roll and I shall reciprocate in kind.

    I see that you have two wonderful sites on book binding and book making, one of the things I still wish to do myself, as I love books. So I will add both of your sites to The DIRECTORY and later this week return to your blogs. Until then

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend and all the best,

    Egmont van Dyck,
    839 Maison Way
    El Sobrante, California, USA 94803-3571


    Multi-Medium artist and photographer

    SKYPE: TheCaliforniaKid

  16. I enjoyed reading some of your posts, I look forward to more this year now that I have found you :-) I Organised a group making of a book a year or so ago. I enjoyed it a lot but was sad that only a handful of our group members joined in, even so I was very proud of it :)

  17. Dear Carol,
    Hi I collect these little books with pressed flowers from the "holy land." It grew out of my interests in Israel, environmental protection, plants, history and love of the chromolithographs. Whew! Most of the books open up like an English language book. I think the ones that open like a Hebrew book either were more oriented to Jewish tourists or simply it reminded Christian tourists of the Jewish/Biblical history of Palestine.


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