The Macclesfield Alphabet by Unknown Artist

The British Library has the most extensive collection of English medieval and late medieval manuscript holdings.


Ink, paint & gold on payment
25 x 17.5 cm
Art Fund grant:
£150,000 ( Total: £600,000)
Acquired in:
Private vendor

Only a handful of medieval artists’ model books like this one survive. Macclesfield Alphabet Book is of outstanding significance for re-assessing the role of individual and workshop production of luxury books in late-medieval Britain. It is filled with fourteen different types of alphabets, ranging from simple letters in Gothic script to large coloured anthropomorphic initials modelled after fifteenth-century woodcuts or engravings. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


By descent through the Earls of Macclesfield since circa 1750 as part of the Shirburn Library.

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British Library 96 Euston Road, LONDON London NW1 2DB 01937 546546

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