some thumbnails of my illustrations

some thumbnails of my illustrations
Please click on the links below to view my portfolio ........ Images copyright of Carrie Osborne

Thursday, 23 September 2010

My beloved books of old...

I have always had a great love for old books, the more well worn the better - the feel and the smell of them, the hand printed words pouring through your fingers as you flick through the brittle pages. There's something about holding these books with their smooth, worn decorated covers that you just don't feel with a modern new book... for me anyway...
So, I just acquired a little old book of Norse Legends, which has inspired me to share with you some of the other favourite old books I have on my shelf...
Here's the new one, it had a rather nice little quote on the opening page that was a nice surprise to find...
Another beautifully decorated title page from a book of Coleridge also has a nice quote...
(Click the picture to enlarge...)

Here's one of my favourite little books, my beloved Mabinogion full of the strange quirky Celtic tales of Welsh legend and of the oldest Arthur - no Victorian romantic chivalry here, but darkly chaotic tales of Kilhwch and Olwen and the Twrch Trwyth - the Otherworldly Boar, the Wild Hunt, strange manifestations, Giants, Hags, impossible quests and the birth of Taliesin the World's greatest Bard, formally the boy Gwion who shapeshifted many times fleeing the witch Ceridwen whoses cauldron of knowledge he had tended.
She eventually caught him when he shapeshifted into a grain of corn on the threshing floor and she into a black hen that swallowed him. In truly Celtic fashion she gave birth to him again nine months later, but he was so beautiful she couldn't bring herself to kill him, so set him adrift on the ocean in a leather bag to the mercy of Manawyddan of the Sea. He was washed up in the fishing weir of the unlucky Elphin where even as a babe he spouted the wisdom of all his previous incarnations... I could go on (and on!) Deserves a post all of its own really!

Here is a rather beautifully illustrated book of Siegfried the Dragon Slayer - this one was quite expensive for me at the time but the colour plates inside are more than worth it!

This is a really great leather book cover I was given as a gift by someone who knows exactly what I'm interested in!

And finally the utterly stunning Book of Kells...

This is a very large book with beautiful detail. I've had it a good ten years or so but everytime I look at it I see something new, there's just so much hidden away within the text, I absolutely love it!
I particularly love the details you can see like this stitched repair in the vellum. I would love to see the real thing one day, and perhaps the Lindesfarne Gospels and the Yellow Book of Lecan as well... long shot! I can only hope...

Anyway this was either a really interesting post or a really boring one depending on how much you love old battered books! I certainly enjoyed digging them all out anyway!


  1. Fabulous...I love battered old books! They are all beautiful...I wish you could get books like that here easily, but anything over about 30 years old here is considered an antique and costs the world! The Book of Kells is stunning...I would love a copy of that. I saw it years ago at Trinity college in Dublin, and having seen a reproduction of it, I was stunned at how small the real thing was, I couldn't believe the detail that had been achieved. Truly a magical book.

  2. Hi Carrie- GREAT post in my book ( pun intended!) I would LOVE that old Mabinogion, wow, amazing. I;ll inquire at the dusty old book store in town to see if they can find it! You've inspired me. And, well, the Book of Kells, Yes, I need to spend more time with that. My, so many amazing worlds held in ones hand. Infinite world unfolding in the space of only a couple of inches... kind of "string theory-esque". Thanks, and happy Equinox!

  3. I am in the really interesting category! and more than a little envious of your book collection especially your Book of Kells.

  4. Yet more things we have in common - these are absolutely gorgeous Carrie!

  5. Carrie, What a wonderful collection you have there!
    OOh I too love old books, the typography, faded pages and wonderful covers the type that could have stepped out of Hogwarts library.
    Thanks so much for sharing them. :)

  6. The tree's that gave their souls and bore these books did not die in vain!
    total works of art , they are wondrous ,great post Carrie :-)

  7. Glad you all liked this one! Quite a few like minded souls out there I think!

    The Book of Kells is a really big book published in the 70's, I have seen a few of these come up from time to time on ebay... and at the risk of starting a bidding war, I believe there is one on there at the moment as it happens - worth keeping your eyes out on ebay if you're after one... Fantastic edition... :)

  8. How nice to have stumbled on your wondrous pages here. What beautiful treasures these books are.

  9. Thanks for visiting Della, glad you liked it! :)

  10. OOOh, Carrie, i am envious of your books. I love old worn ones, with tooled covers & ancient. The book of Kells is a treasure i own too x

  11. Hi Carrie,
    All of your books are great!
    I'm an old book collector as well. I think most illustrators are collectors. :-)
    The book of Kells is quite magical. The Celtic knotwork designs are amazing.
    Good to visit you here and thank you for visiting me at my place.
    I'm also a bit obsessed with foxes! ;-)
    Enjoy your visit to Stourhead.
    Autumn Blessings.

  12. Oooooh!! I shrieked out loud when I saw this post, and had to go and fetch my husband so we could both coo over them. I am sadly envious! How wonderful to have such gorgeous old books - I would really like to see the Norse legends - I have been looking for a set of Norse tales myself :)

  13. I am swooning right now. Old books are so breathtaking.


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