Cabinet 03: Puzzle Initials

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Initials coloured red and blue with a jagged swirl-like white line separating the two colours are known as 'puzzle initials'. Developed in the latter half of the 12th century, this style of initial Rowan Watson states "was taken up by the secular book trade […] and became what the literate, educated classes of Europe accepted as the standard in well-finished books". On display is a facsimile copy of Metamorphoses featuring a puzzle initial. Metamorphoses was translated from French into English by William Caxton in 1480 and was produced by a Flemish scribe (Glaister). Caxton is famous for being England's first printer. He established his first English printing press in 1476. To the left of Metamorphoses is a leaf from a medieval German manuscript Bible from the 14th century, also decorated with a puzzle initial. Little is known of the origin of this item.

[Leaf from a medieval Bible]. Ms. written in Latin in Germany in the 14th century. DeBeer MS 38