Before the web and the industrial revolution, Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press brought about a world of printed books mass-produced for the middle class. Prior to that, books were written and copied individually by hand, the most beautiful of which were illustrated and painted by highly skilled artisans working with precious pigments and metals. The manuscripts were frequently prayer books, bibles, books of hours for aristocracy, or bestiaries, herbals, and books of flowers.
The most skilled illuminators created books which were individual universes inside their goat-skinned covers, decorated with pigments of crushed lapis lazuli and thin hammered sheets of gold and silver. We are all so lucky to have access to these wonders today through the internet, reproductions and museums. Let me share some general information about these manuscripts with you.