Ars Libri Ltd | Collections

Writing & Calligraphy

Michael Baurenfeind, Vollkommene Wieder-Herstellung der bissher sehr in Verfall gekommenen gründlich-u : zierlichen Schreib-Kunst. Nürnberg, Germany 1716

Writing books — manuals for the instruction of lettering and handwriting — are among the most beautiful of all books in the graphic arts. They are also among the rarest, routinely subjected to the wear and tear of generations of copyists. Bibliographically, they pose formidable challenges to scholars. Culturally, they are fascinating objects of study for a wide range of disciplines. 

The Peter Arms Wick collection, currently available for purchase from the rare book firm, Ars Libri, is one of the most important collections of writing and calligraphy books in private hands. It includes 131 printed books ranging in date from 1545 to 1884, together with 40 calligraphic manuscripts from 1569 to 1951. It is particularly strong in Northern European, Spanish and Portuguese material, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Over the course of his career, the noted connoisseur and bibliophile Peter Arms Wick (1920-2004) held curatorial positions in the print departments of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Fogg Art Museum, and in the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts of the Harvard College Library. Among his publications are the Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre gravé et lithographié de Paul Signac (1974), written in collaboration with E.W. Kornfeld; The Arts of the French Book, 1900-1965 (1967), written in collaboration with Eleanor M. Garvey; the catalogue of the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Jacques Villon: Master of Graphic Art (1964); and the catalogues of the exhibitions at the Harvard College Library, The Turn of a Century, 1885-1910 (1970) and Sixteenth-Century Architectural Books From Italy and France (1971).

More Ars Libri collections here.

Posted in: Media, Typography

Comments [7]

You can see a lot of Arab influence. BibliOdyssey has a great collection (http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/2006/06/zoomorphic-calligraphy.html) that dates back to 1478. If individuals love the Peter Arms Wick collection, I would highly recommend checking out the Gestalten published book, Arabesque (http://www.gestalten.com/books/detail?id=d7f6f0d817779bea0117d04e2079011c) that showcases some contemporary expression of writing, copy and calligraphy. Great post.
Ahmad Ktaech

Great post! I love handwriting books, they are so beautiful.
Natalie @ Businesscards.com

Great post. Thank you.
It takes a lot of practice to do such things.

Bibliodyssey is indeed another source of beautiful old stuff.
Florin Florea

Oriental patterns become popular...
minsk design agency

Calligraphy is a beautiful art form and I imagine it must take great skill to do... it's unfortunate that it has pretty much become a lost art. I guess that was one negative byproduct of the inventions of the printer/typewriter/computer.
memory foam

Some of these could be turned into Photoshop fonts. It's staggering to see how smooth they are and at least in my country, Romania, i see a lot of commercial application for something like this.
Ander Paw

Calligraphy doesn't have to be old either - it's one of the most enduring crafts. Check out Shoe's Calligraffiti for an affirmation that calligraphy's restlessness and elegance are still fundamental expressions, not only in studios, but also on the streets...
Jane / Eye

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