Dance of Death Alphabets

In this section:

Hans Holbein (1524)
Wolfgang Köpfl (1526)
Christoph Froschauer (1527)
Mainz and Cologne (1532)
Augsburg (1534)
Johannes Schott (1536)
Greek alphabet (1538)
Andreas Vesalius (1543)
Cologne (1548)
Heinrich Lödel (1849)
Douce reprint (1858)
Douce, revisited
Odds and ends

Picture display:
Pictures tagged with "alphabet"

Monkey with mirror
Monkey

In another section we have seen how the printers in a certain area, Paris, and within a certain time period, ca. 1495 - 1520, were competing with each other when it came to decorate the margins in their printed prayer books with a myriad of illustrations.

A similar phenomenon took place in the German-speaking countries, where the printers in a certain area, Basel, in a certain period, 1515-1545, excelled in decorating their initial letters.

The biggest difference is that the Parisian printers could draw their inspiration from a broad selection of traditions and literary works — danse macabre, the women's danse macabre, Mors de la Pomme, Les loups ravissans and La dance aux aveugles — whereas almost all of the corresponding trend in Basel originates from one single man, namely Hans Holbein.

Peasants dance

This large alphabet was used by Christoph Froschauer in Zürich.
Froschauer, Froschauer N
Attributed to Holbein
Fool

The Germans didn't have nearly the same interest in over-decorating their books, as the Frenchmen had.

The decorated initials served a practical purpose helping the reader to navigate in the text. The initials would mark the start of the individual sections. Sometimes the printers would use different sizes to differentiate between paragraphs and chapters, and they could use horizontal "lineal mouldings" like the one above to indicate the beginning of a new volume.

Bow and arrow
Fool
Fool O
Faun
Faun A

Strictly speaking there's a difference between:

Obviously the last kind is the most interesting one.

First page:
Hans Holbein

Thomas Wolff

Holbein: A
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: A
Holbein: B
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: B
Holbein: C
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: C
Holbein: D
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: D
Holbein: E
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: E
Holbein: F
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: F
Holbein: G
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: G
Holbein: H
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: H
Holbein: I
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: I
Holbein: K
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: K
Holbein: L
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: L
Holbein: M
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: M
Holbein: N
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: N
Holbein: O
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: O
Holbein: P
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: P
Holbein: Q
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: Q
Holbein: R
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: R
Holbein: S
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: S
Holbein: T
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: T
Holbein: V
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: V
Holbein: W
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: W
Holbein: X
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: X
Holbein: Y
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: Y
Holbein: Z
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: Z
Holbein: M
Holbein Alphabet 1526: Holbein: M

Alphabets


Up to Medieval Dances of Death