Bookmark – “Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day: Five Decades of Rare Book School & The Book Arts Press”

In late 2022, the New York’s Grolier Club and Charlottesville’s Rare Book School/The Book Arts Press joined to create this online exhibition.

We have all been taught how to read books. But what can we learn by looking closely at their material forms? This exhibition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Rare Book School and the Book Arts Press, which teaches leading curators, librarians, conservators, book historians, and collectors how to analyze books as physical objects, along with the materials and equipment used to make them.

With its catalogue-esque subtitle and its outline in black-and-white body text, the exhibition might slip past the casual scroller. But ignore the eye-candy poster and the all-caps title/subtitle and look closely at that clear and logical outline. Behind each of the links from the outline, the curators Barbara Heritage (Associate Director & Curator of Collections) and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge (Associate Curator & Special Collections Librarian, Rare Book School at the University of Virginia) have provided definitions, explanations and illustrative images that will satisfy novice and expert alike interested in the evolution of the book.

Never mind if the text often reads as a lure to enroll in the Rare Book School. What is here is a companion to any general or specialist course. For the self-taught, it is a companion to any popular book on the subject (for example, Keith Houston’s The Book) or to specialist books (for example, Bamber Gascoigne’s How to Identify Prints).

The final topic in the outline feels like an outlier. Or perhaps only because it is the last. An additional section on book art (not just the book arts) and a section on the digital study and exploration of the book would be welcome.

Here is an archival link to the resource.

Books On Books Collection – Nick Wonham

The Charm of Magpies (2018)

The Charm of Magpies (2018)
Nick Wonham
Casebound, cloth spine and paper over boards with specially printed flyleaves from Roger Grech at his Papercut Bindery. H370 x W260 mm. 27 pages unnumbered. Edition of 160 copies, of which this is #98. Acquired from Incline Press, 1 August 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

A long admiration for magpies has always threatened to crowd the Books On Books Collection beyond this beautiful work from Nick Wonham and Incline Press and the relief sculpture in paper by Calvin Nichols below. But one pair of works will have to be enough for joy.

Iridescence(2016)
Calvin Nicholls
Acquired from the artist, 1 September 2016. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

On the Incline Press website, Graham Moss and his team write:

Collective nouns A parliament of magpies has to be a favourite, especially if you’ve heard a group of them cackling together in the Springtime. But we prefer the alternative, a charm of magpies, which certainly suits this poem better. It is one version of a folk rhyme which has many local variants, all superstitiously foretelling the future through random occurrence.

Magpies are often known a thugs in the garden, stealing eggs and chasing off their more delicate rivals. As printers, though, we have a fondness for them because of their “ink on paper” plumage and their latin name pica pica, which recalls the printshop unit of measure.

In the interview under Further Reading, Wonham mentions Kurt Schwitters as a compositional influence, but in color and boldness, Joseph Crawhall‘s, William Nicholson‘s, C.B. Falls‘ and Christopher Wormell‘s alphabet books spring more to mind.

Left to right: Joseph Crawhall (1884), William Nicholson (1898), C.B. Falls (1930) and Christopher Wormell (1995).

As Moss and team point out on their site, the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes does not include the magpies among the counting rhymes, which is odd with so many versions to be had. Birdspot, formerly British Bird Lovers, favors Nick Wonham’s chosen version. For magpies interested in shiny trivia, the site also provides a link to a BBC television program whose theme song was based on the magpie rhyme. It was “composed and played by the Spencer Davis Group under the alias The Murgatroyd Band, just after Steve Winwood had left to join the supergroup Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech”.

And to note just one touch of Nick Wonham’s subtlety, here is the page before the colophon. In all the other images, the magpies are roosting. This one in flight is also the only one in black and white. A brilliant “The End”.

Postscript: In correspondence, the artist has provided further insight on influences and his handling of color:

A note on the colour – the biggest influence on this was Rigby Graham, whose work Graham Moss introduced me to through the Old Stile Press book Kippers and Sawdust. Graham had just printed my first book, which had black and white linocuts, and was trying to inspire me to try colour. It worked; I was blown away by the majestic woodcuts and aspired to create books in a similar vein. Rigby liked an unusually coloured sky, he also liked to position his illustrations through the book so that the colours of prints on adjacent pages contrasted with each other to create dynamism and visual interest, something I have attempted in my book. Correspondence with Books On Books Collection, 9 September 2022.

Wonham also adopts and owns a compositional feature from Rigby Graham’s Kippers and Sawdust: the juxtaposition of the mechanical and the natural. His ownership is particularly apparent in his setting for the rhyme’s seventh verse.

Rigby Graham’s flight formation over a landscape (from 2022 Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association);
Wonham’s surveillance cameras for a perch.

Further Reading

Enid Marx“. 1 August 2022. Books On Books Collection.

One For Sorrow … Magpie Nursery Rhyme“. November 2020. Birdspot. Accessed 5 August 2022.

Campbell, Gordon. July 2008. “Rigby Graham – Doctor of Letters – Artist“. University of Leicester, News and Events. Accessed 10 September 2022.

Nicholls, Calvin. 2005. Paper sculptures, 1995-2005. McHenry, IL: Follett Library Resources.

Opie, Iona Archibald, and Peter Opie. 1951. The Oxford dictionary of nursery rhymes. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Young, Richard. 15 December 2016. “Meet artist Nick Wonham“. Great British Life. Accessed 1 August 2022.

Books On Books Collection – Tommy Thompson

The ABC of Our Alphabet (1952)

The ABC of Our Alphabet: A primer of the lineal history of our present-day letters (1952)
Tommy Thompson
Casebound with doublures showing map of locations of alphabet development.
Acquired from St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield, 6 August 2022. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

First appearing in 1942, Samuel Winfield (Tommy) Thompson’s somewhat forgotten children’s introduction to the history of the alphabet occupies an interesting position in that line of work that includes Oscar Ogg’s The 26 Letters (1964), Tiphaine Samoyault’s Alphabetical Order (1998), Renzo Rossi’s The Revolution of the Alphabet (2009) and Don Robb’s Ox, House, Stick (2010). For a collector of children’s alphabet books and alphabet-related artists’ books, the decision whether to acquire it balances on its interior design and content.

With its overlay of second-color illustrations on the text, Thompson’s book makes for an interesting forerunner to Lyn Davies’ fine press A is for Ox. Thompson falls prey to instances of illegibility from the technique, but both enjoy instances of brilliant juxtaposition of word and redrawn images.

Two-color illustration overlaying text. Right: Davies. Left: Thompson.

Among the primers of alphabet history, Thompson’s also stands out for the attention it gives to North American Indian pictorial writing. Rather than the usual Eurocentric sources, the Leni-Lenape, Dakota and Sioux Nations provide the bulk of examples of the method. The enlightened perspective, however, is undercut by a strain of cultural and historical supremacy apparent in several passages and, in particular, the perpetuation of the Walum Olum hoax and inclusion of a chapter from Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha to stand in for the absence of any similar memorialization of painted grave posts. Although Thompson is point blank on how “the invasion of the white man” prevented the growth and development of this method of writing, consider this passage describing the Leni-Lenape Penn Treaty of 1682 that was woven with perforated shell beads (wampum):

The figures of a white man and an Indian are woven in the belt, clasping hands in a true gesture of friendship. The white man is portrayed wearing a hat, as the Indian always drew the symbol of the white man. This treaty of peace was never broken or forgotten.

Except that, in the 1860s, most of the Leni-Lenape Nation was forcibly displaced to Oklahoma.

It was not until the 1990s that the so-called Leni-Lenape cosmographical poems of Walum Olum were proven to be fake, but suspicions were strong in the 1930s. All this is compounded as the book laments the ephemerality of the “Walum Olum poems” and the custom of pictorial grave posts:

Pictorial epitaphs on Indian grave posts were quite common in the early days of the new world. But knowledge of this romantic custom as well as the knowledge of the Red Man’s art of picture writing will live forever, had there been no other record of him but the beautiful “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Thompson’s design skills and his side note of claim to fame as reportedly the first recipient of royalties for typeface design (Thompson Quill Script) nudged the balance toward acquisition. Maybe perversely the annoying cultural dissonance also nudged the balance in that direction. The book’s presence provides the opportunity to compare it line for line with the other primers and look harder for the signs of the cultural blinkers we are wearing now. Also, with authentic pictorial cosmography available from the Navajo (Diné) Nation and with new archaeological finds from the Middle East (see below for both), perhaps it is time for a new primer against which to compare Thompson and the rest.

Further Reading

Grant, Richard. September 2021. “In the Land of the Ancient Ones“. Smithsonian Magazine. Accessed 20 August 2022.

A review of the film Canyon del Muerto about one of the first female archaeologists, Ann Axtell Morris. What has this to do with Thompson’s book? An ironic coincidence. Morris worked for the archaeologist Sylvanus G. Morley on his Yucatán expedition. Thompson cites Morley in his bibliography. With her husband, fellow archaeologist Earl Morris, and their Navajo team, Ann Morris went on to open the Canyon del Muerto to the discoveries that led to insights into the Ancestral Puebloans, the source of Navajo cosmography. Other than papers coauthored with Earl, Ann’s accounts could only find outlet as juvenile publications. While Sylvanus and Earl may have been the combined inspiration for Indiana Jones, Ann offers the status of artist, first female archaeologist and subject of a current movie as a role model to celebrate with a sidebar in a new history of writing.

Morris, Ann Axtell. 1931. Digging in Yucatan: Archaeological Explorations in 1924. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co.

_______________. 1934. Digging in the Southwest. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co.

Naveh, Joseph. 1975. Origins of the alphabet. London: Cassell.

Oestreicher, David M. 1994. Unmasking the Walum Olum: A 19th-century Hoax. South Orange, N.J.: Archaeological Society of New Jersey.

Ogg, Oscar. 1964. The 26 Letters. New York: T.Y. Crowell.

Robb, Don, and Anne Smith. 2010. Ox, House, Stick: The History of our Alphabet. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Rossi, Renzo. 2009. The revolution of the alphabet. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.

Samoyault, Tiphaine. 1998. Alphabetical Order: How the Alphabet Began. New York: Viking.

Shaw, Gary. 15 April 2021. “Ancient ABCs: The alphabet’s ‘missing link’ discovered in Israel“. The Art Newspaper.

Books On Books Collection – Felice Feliciano

Alphabetum Romanum (c. 1460)

Alphabetum Romanum: The Letterforms of Felice Feliciano
Felice Feliciano (c. 1460)
Jason Dewinetz, drafting/printing (2010) and Mark Cockram, bookbinding (2022)
Boxed and casebound, sewn. Box: 222 x 172 x 30 mm. Book: 202 x 155 mm. 82 pages. Sheets acquired from designer/publisher. Binding acquired from designer book binder.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

One of the pleasures of collecting alphabet-related works and living close to Oxford University is the opportunity to place new work next to older ones. An added pleasure in this case is seeing a new work made newer by a designer bookbinder.

As the foreword and afterword to this work explain, Jason Dewinetz’s redrawing of Felice Feliciano’s letterforms (c. 1460) was in fact prompted by two 20th century responses to Feliciano’s original: the first being Giovanni Mardersteig’s edition in 1960 at Editiones Officinae Bodoni and the second, also overseen by Mardersteig, being the facsimile edition issued by Jaca Book Codici over 1985-87 and separately by Belser Verlag in 1985. The Bodleian Library has both the Officinae Bodoni and Belser editions. An opportunity too good to miss and one worth sharing.

Left: Dewinetz edition. Center: Feliciano’s original in the Vatican facsimile. Right: Officinae Bodoni edition. Photo: Books On Books.

Dewinetz does not reproduce Feliciano’s commentary. His aim is to focus attention entirely on the letters. Although he has restricted his re-presentation of the letters to the recto page (whereas in Feliciano’s original, the letters after A occupy the verso and recto), he is too clever a designer not to find a way to capture the one instance in which Feliciano’s letter drawing and double-page spread interact entertainingly.

For the opening of Paul F. Gehl’s foreword, Dewinetz captures the dramatic flourish of Feliciano’s Q,
whose tail crosses the double-page spread in his original. See below. Photos: Books On Books.

From the Vatican facsimile, Feliciano’s double-page spread with Q and S. Photo: Books On Books.

What happened to the letter R? Feliciano must have felt the need to give it its own double-page spread to show off a variation in coloring and tails. Like Mardersteig, Dewinetz gives the Rs each their own page. Unlike Mardersteig (and Feliciano), he places the Rs in correct alphabetical order.

Feliciano’s letter Rs from the Vatican facsimile. Photo: Books On Books.

Dewinetz’s re-drawing Q,R,R,S. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Mardersteig follows Feliciano’s disrupted alphabetical order, but for Q and S to keep to a design that places each letter on a recto page facing a schematic drawing on the verso, Mardersteig has to forego the center-crossing tail of the Q and place S on a separate insert leaf.

Mardersteig’s QSRR sequence in the Ediciones Officinae Bodoni edition. Photo: Books On Books.

As a designer bookbinder, Mark Cockram has a deft eye and touch as he looks for and executes the designs inspired by the text. He could not resist Dewinetz’s cropped Q from the foreword by Paul F. Gehl. Taking his Q (as it were) however from the Goudy display font, he gives it a deserved prominence, stamped in black, on the double-trayed box’s spine. The choice of a different font reminds me of Eric Gill’s quip: “letter designing is still an occupation worthy of the enthusiasm of rational beings, and, though a Q which were all queue & no Q would be ‘past a joke’, it is difficult to say exactly where a tail should end”.

Left photo: Courtesy of Mark Cockram. Right photo: Books On Books Collection.

Apparently it was a tail of which Cockram could not let go. Further echoing Dewinetz’s cropping, truncated letter forms peek through the Palimpsest Parchment with which the book itself is bound (flat back). They are laserprinted on hand colored papers, colors inspired by those used in the book. Cockram also echoes the book’s color “ghosting” on the box by layering blank strips of hand colored papers beneath the cloth during the making process. The color-echoes between box and book continue with the box’s interior.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

The handsome bindings of the Vatican facsimile and Mardersteig edition have stood up to their library existence. In muted tones and gilt, they speak to the design esthetics of a different era.

Vatican facsimile binding

Officinae Bodoni edition binding

When the Dewinetz/Cockram edition joins the Vatican facsimile and Officinae Bodoni edition at the Bodleian, students of lettering, type design, bookmaking and bookbinding and their history will have a feast of an opportunity to compare and contrast.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Gill, Eric. 1931. An essay on typography. London: Sheed & Ward.

Feliciano, Felice, & Mardersteig, Giovanni. 1985. Alphabetum romanum: Vat. Lat. 6852 : Aus der Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana (Codices e Vaticanis selecti ; v. 70). Zürich: Belser Verlag.

Feliciano, Felice, Mardersteig, G., & Ferrari, O. 1960. Alphabetum Romanum (Ital. ed.] ed., Biblioteca apostolica vaticana. Mss. (Cod. Vat. 6852)). Verona: Officinae Bodoni.

Books On Books Collection – Ursula Hochuli-Gamma

26 farbige Buchstaben

26 Colored Letters

26 farbige Buchstaben (1986) / “26 Colored Letters
Ursula Hochuli-Gamma
Afterword Rolf Kühni
Sewn paperbound. H240 x W152 mm. 36 unnumbered pages. Acquired from VGS Verlagsgenossenschaft, 7 June 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Poor letter Z, even when it is giving Zen-like advice, it is relegated to the end of the queue.

Y is for ypsilon: The Ypsilon makes little sense. According to Bayern it is right in the middle.
Z is for Ziel: The destination is not as important as the journey, so we should start from the beginning.

A is for Alphabet; The alphabet belongs to those who write and to those who read.
B is for Buchstaben: All letters fix words in the past, but they also bring them back again.

Cognate words like “Alphabet” provide a clue that this gem of design and letter art is an abecedary, but since all nouns are capitalized in German, it is not that much of a clue. In the English edition of this abecedary (necessary for non-German speakers to appreciate Rolf Kühni’s afterword), these sayings are left in German to preserve the words to which the letters refer– as in B for Buchstaben (“letters”) and Z for Ziel (“destination”). Some are aphorisms (containing a grain of truth) like A, B and E. Some fall more toward religious or political dicta like F. Some play letter jokes as with Y, which is named Ypsilon in German and has been belabored in English as well for its superfluitie. The translations here are non-official and entirely amateurish, but the alternative translation for the letter E might withstand professional and alphabetic scrutiny.

E is for Einfache: The simple left much behind before it became simple. (Easy left much behind before it became easy.)
F is for Frage: The question of “peace or freedom” will sound strange to those who have no bread.

Although this is not letterpress work (typeset on a Compugraphic, printed by Typotron AG with photoliths from Litho-Service AG, both in St Gallen, Switzerland), its artwork foreshadows how the artist would use the wooden letters that her husband, Jost Hochuli, well-known book designer/typographer, rescued from a St. Gallen printer in 1993. A peek at her Metamorphose (2014) and Zeichen, Ziffern, Lettern (2015) shows how she would go on to use them for collage, painting and inspiration.

Double-page spreads from Metamorphose and Zeichen, Ziffern, Lettern (“Characters, Numbers, Letters”).

Further Reading

Given the scarcity of writing online about her work and the absence of any of her works in the British Library, Ursula Hochuli-Gamma seems under-appreciated. Her exhibitions have tended to be local to St. Gallen, but her books can be acquired from Verlagsgenossenschaft St. Gallen and some booksellers.

Books On Books Collection – Suse MacDonald

Alphabatics (1986)

Alphabatics (1986)
Suse MacDonald
Paper on board, casebound sewn. H236 x 285 mm, 56 pages. Acquired from Book Depository, 10 September 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

While Suse MacDonald’s Alphabatics can find its ancestor in Bruno Munari’s ABC Con Fantasia (1960), it also finds some clever descendants in Nicolas McDowall’s A Bodoni Charade (1995), David Pelletier’s The Graphic Alphabet (1996) and Anne Bertier’s Construis-moi une lettre (2008).

As the letters are put through their acrobatic paces in three to four steps on the verso page to become the image on the right, the book gently pushes the left-to-right reading direction. Mahmoud Tammam has created animals composed of their names in Arabic script. It would be interesting to see a right-to-left Arabic version (Alefbatics?) of Alphabatics.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Anne Bertier“. (in progress). Books On Books Collection.

Nicolas McDowall“. (in progress). Books On Books Collection.

Bruno Munari“. 19 August 2021. Books On Books Collection.

Dave Pelletier“. 10 August 2022. Books On Books Collection.

Books On Books Collection – David Pelletier

The Graphic Alphabet (1996)

The Graphic Alphabet (1996)
David Pelletier
Paper on board, embossed with the letter A, casebound, sewn and glued. H255 x W250 mm, 32 pages. Acquired from Amazon, 24 August 2021.
Photos of the work: Books On Books Collection.

David Pelletier’s 1996 Caldecott Honor Book follows in the footsteps (the tumbles?) of Suse MacDonald’s Alphabatics (1986) another Caldecott Honor Book. The difference between them is a fine one depending in part on the reader’s age — or the collector’s eye. Both push the reader’s visual imagination. Both provide the words to be associated with the letter and image. MacDonald has shapes and images that turn into letters, where Pelletier has letters than turn into images (A), images whose shapes hint at letters and enact words (B and Y), letters found in images (W and X) and letters made from shapes on the page and the enacted word (Z). In a sense, Pelletier keeps the reader jumping more than does MacDonald. He crisscrosses several of the subgenres of alphabet books: wordplay and visual puns, hidden letters, conceptualism and abstraction.

One can see an affinity with Claire Van Vliet’s Tumbling Blocks for Pris and Bruce (1996) and Scott McCarney’s AlphaBooks (1981-2015), which underscores the cross-currents of alphabet books and artists’ books.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Robert Cottingham“. 30 November 2021. Books On Books Collection. Found letters.

Stephen Johnson“. 30 November 2021. Books On Books Collection. Found letters.

Scott McCarney” 26 February 2020. Books On Books Collection. Artist’s books.

Claire Van Vliet“. 3 July 2022. Books On Books Collection. Artist’s book.

Books On Books Collection – Anne Bertier

Dessine-moi une lettre (2004)

Dessine-moi une lettre (2004)
Anne Bertier
Casebound, sewn. H258 x W258 mm, 56 pages. Acquired from Amazon, 17 August 2021.
Photos of the work: Books On Books Collection.

Anne Bertier’s three alphabet books cross sub-genres of the ABCs with distinctive style and educational challenge. While the answers to the visual puzzles are offered at the end of the first and last books, considerable pleasure is missed by giving up too quickly. For the English speaker learning French, there’s the added pleasure of cementing a familiar word with Bertier’s images and discovering a new word that will also stick because of them.

Rêve-moi une lettre (2005)

Rêve-moi une lettre (2005)
Anne Bertier
Casebound, sewn. H135 x W132 mm, 52 pages. Acquired from Amazon, 30 August 2021.
Photos of the work: Books On Books Collection.

Here is the French version of the alliterative alphabet. Its opening with Alice suggests an underlying literary motif, but more likely at play is the association of the book’s title (“dream me a letter”) with Alice’s dreaming of Wonderland.

Construis-moi une lettre (2008)

Construis-moi une lettre (2008)
Anne Bertier
Casebound, sewn. H135 x W256 mm, 56 pages. Acquired from Amazon, 17 August 2021.
Photos of the work: Books On Books Collection.

The English alphabet’s “go to” for the letter A does not work for the French pomme, but from the similarity between the image here and that in Dessine-moi un lettre, there seems to be one, too, for the French alphabet. With the cognate word in French and English, the letter B is too easy. But C is for ?

With the overlap between design, art and children’s education, Bertier’s numerous large-scale exhibitions in China, Italy, Japan, Korea as well as France come as no surprise. Think of Dik Bruna, Eleonora Cumer, Katsumi Komagata or Bruno Munari.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Eleonora Cumer”. 6 September 2019. Books On Books Collection.

Katsumi Komagata“. 22 March 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Bruno Munari“. 19 August 2021. Books On Books Collection.

Books On Books Collection – Martín Gubbins

Alfabeto (2017)

Alfabeto (2017)
Martín Gubbins
Hardback. 180 x 180 mm. 60 pages. Acquired from Naranja Publicaciones, 28 July 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Each letter of the Spanish alphabet is printed in sans serif across a full page to create a grid-like or plaid-like pattern. All letters are printed once in black on white paper and twice in white on black paper; with sheets facing one another. For the English-speaking reader, that’s a bonus of two pages for the ñ.

Held at normal reading length, the double-page spreads do have a plaid effect, but inspected closely, the effect becomes that of wire mesh from which the letters leap out the less tightly woven spots.

Unsurprisingly the plaids are as distinct from, and similar to, one another as letter shapes are. Sometimes, as with the letter b, an illusion of three dimensionality takes hold.

The most surprising — though they should not be — are the letters i and l. With no crossbar, bowl or curve, they cannot create a plaid pattern. Rather, their black on white, white on black patterns look like barcodes.

Gubbins One of the founding members of the Foro de Escritores (www.fde.cl) Chilean version of Bob Cobbing’s Writers Forum in London, and noted figure in the avant-garde poetry scene in Latin America. Gubbins has collaborated with the American poet and artist John M. Bennett, in whose honor

Some visual artists call this kind of work a “tapuscript“. Some throw it together under the heading of language art or concrete or visual poetry. Karl Kempton prefers the term “visual text art” over any other. Conceding the term to cover the broad genre, works like Alfabeto that cover the entire alphabet in sequence — or even play with its sequence — might deserve the sub generic term “visual alphabet art”. Kempton himself, Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, Raffaella della Olga, Sharon Werner & Sharon Forss — as well as many of the artists in Victoria Bean and Chris McCabe’s anthology and those in Philip Davenport’s — surely provide a sufficient number of examples.

Further Reading

Bean, Victoria, and Chris McCabe. 2016. The new concrete: visual poetry in the 21st century. London: Hayward Publishing.

Davenport, Philip. 2013. The dark would: anthology of language art. Manchester-Berlin: Apple Pie Editions.

Kempton, Karl. 2018. A History of Visual Text Art. Manchester-Berlin: Apple Pie Editions. Accessed 15 December 2020.

Olga, Raffaella della“. Books On Books Collection. For “tapuscript”.

Books On Books Collection – Anushka Ravishankar & Christiane Pieper

Alphabets are Amazing Animals (2003)

Alphabets are Amazing Animals (2003)
Anushka Ravishankar (text) & Christiane Pieper (illustrations)
Casebound, paper on board. 220 x 220 mm. 56 pages unnumbered. Acquired from Sauliusst, 9 July 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection. With permission of the publisher: Photographs of the book titled Alphabets Are Amazing Animals by Anushka Ravishankar and Christiane Pieper. Copyright © Tara Books Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India. tarabooks.com

Alliterative alphabet books and animal alphabet books both have long and geographically wide traditions. In 1820, the London publisher J. Harris and Son at the corner of St. Paul’s Church-Yard published Peter Piper’s practical principles of plain and perfect pronunciation : to which is added, a collection of moral and entertaining conundrums. In 1840, the Turin publisher Alessandro Fontana published Piccolo alfabeto di storia naturale pei fanciulli.

And likewise — together — alliterative animal alphabet books (and even a few alliterative animal artists’ books) crowd the field, for example, Graeme Base’s Animalia (1986), Kay Vincent’s Animal Alphabet (2015) and Michael Kuch’s An Alliterative Abecedarium of Anthropomorphic Animals (2011).

Making a lasting contribution to those traditions must be as difficult for children’s book artists and authors as blowing big blue bubbles is for baby buffaloes.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Webb, Poul. 2017-“Alphabet Books — Parts 1-8” on Art & Artists. Google has designated this site “A Blog of Note”, well deserved for its historical breadth in examples, clarity of images and insight.