This initial letter B is one of the largest illuminated letters that I’ve shared with you here on Reusable Art. It is actually somewhat famous when considered in the history of printing. It dates all the way back to 1457 when it was included in Schæffer’s work Psalter. It introduced the fist psalm.
The initial letter B shown here has been often copied but most printmakers stuck with a red/grey or red/blue coloring. For the most part, the only change was switching the two colors. It is described as not following the Gothic or German style. The palm-leaf filet work is thought to be of Oriental influence and might have been copied from an earlier Spanish manuscript that followed the Moorish school.
Ironically, Schæffer was said to have had little experience or a scientific background in ink-making; yet, his work is often held up as exemplary and exceeding what modern (at least what was modern in 1876) presses were able to do.
I love all of the different elements of this letter image – flowers, wheat, swirls, curls and even a dog or impala of some sort. The image you see here is actually a smaller size. If you would like to see the original, just click on the initial letter B to access it.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.