Arthur Machen’s Bookplate

Over at Wormwoodiana, Boyd White writes an interesting piece about the ex libris of Arthur Machen, which Vincent Starrett called, “one of the great rarities in its field.”

There were four known examples of the bookplate, designed by Herbert Jones, who was chief librarian of Kensington around the fin de siècle. Recently, White tracked down a fifth at the British Library, in a copy of John Henry Parker’s An Introduction to the Study of Gothic Architecture, given to Machen as a Christmas present by his father.


Tsarist-Futurist Visions of Tomorrow

In 1914 the Russian chocolate company Einem issued a set of eight postcards depicting life in Moscow in the twenty-third century. The horrors of World War I and Communism were as-yet undreamt of and Russia was imagined still thriving under the benevolent rule of the Tsar. Air ships fly over Red Square, monorails fan out from the planned-but-never-built Central Station, aerosanis race along the Moscow–Saint Petersburg motorway, and a troop of soldiers on horseback uphold tradition in Lubyanskaya Square.

The illustrations are fanciful and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it is interesting to see how the future was imagined before the revolution.









Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe

The Sleeper, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846-7

Shortly after the publication of Poe’s “The Raven” in 1845, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, then an art student, undertook a series of pen-and-ink illustrations of the poem. Completed between 1846 and 1848, the four drawings represent variations on the fourteenth stanza,

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Rossetti titled each of the drawings, Angel Footfalls. As Robert Wilkes notes, “These are among Rossetti’s earliest works as an artist which even predate the founding of the [Pre-Raphaelite] Brotherhood in 1848.”

During the same period Rossetti illustrated two other poems by Poe, “The Sleeper” and “Ulalume.” The latter was begun in 1847, the same year the poem was published. In all of these early works, with the exception of the first Angel Footfalls, Rossetti’s mature style is instantly recognizable in nascency.

Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1846
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1847
Angel Footfalls, illustration of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1848
Ulalume, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1847-8

A Family Tree of the Indo-European Languages

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Scandinavian illustrator Minna Sundberg has put together a lovely “family tree” of the Indo-European languages (here). A profile in the Guardian explains:

Sundberg’s illustration maps the relationships between Indo-European and Uralic languages. The creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, put the illustration together to show why some of the characters in her comic were able to understand each other despite speaking different languages. She wanted to show how closely related Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic were to each other, and how Finnish came from distinct linguistic roots…

The European arm of the tree splits off into Slavic, Romance, and Germanic branches. Here you can see the relationship between different Slavic languages. You can also spot some of Britain’s oldest languages clustered together…

The size of the leaves on the trees is intended to indicate—roughly—how many people speak each language. It shows the relative size of English as well as its Germanic roots.