From my book-arts mailing list, a wonderful blog post on the origin of standard book sizes. I adore the illustrations, am charmed by the prose style, and find myself tempted to go look at our Google referrals for either some penance of my own or a good parlor game. My only question, reading it, is what about the fact that some vellum* was made from cows?
The rest of the blog is also worth browsing through, from the article about Last Supper portion sizes to its intermittent reproductions of illuminated marginalia.
This is the kind of thing that makes me regret sticking to the Classical period during university.
(The title of my post here is from an overheard comment on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The speaker continued, “…and after you’ve eaten everything edible, you take the rest…” and then drifted out of earshot. Martin and I turned to each other and said, in unison, “Fancy haggis for tea tonight?”)
* The terms vellum and parchment are hopelessly muddled in the history of bookbinding. I have heard it firmly asserted that vellum is from cattle and parchment from sheep, and I have heard that laughed out of the pub. But I have been consistently informed that, whatever you call it, the material of the Book of Kells comes from bovine sources.