Vintage Books Are Art

A page from the mysterious Voynich manuscript,...
A page from the mysterious Voynich manuscript, which is undeciphered to this day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I respect books. I hate to see books damaged, even — especially — in the name of decor. At a decorators’ show house recently, my sister, mother, and I looked in horror at shelf art made of cut up books. “Oh, thank goodness,” my sister soon identified, “they’re just Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.”

Walking through a decorating fair using vintage books and paper as disposable materials makes my blood run dark. The current trend of tearing up old books to get aged or interesting paper is infuriating and wholly unnecessary. My mother has decorated her bathroom with delightful antique book illustrations, everything from Sinbad to Sherlock Holmes, all color-copied from the originals for a neat aesthetic with no damage.

Note iconic vintage collectible Nancy Drew editions.
Note same iconic vintage collectible editions, and many more vintage and antique books, gutted to make (probably short-lived) handbags.

And who knows what’s being lost? My sister points out that recently lost episodes of Doctor Who were recovered years after the only copies had been purchased at a similar event. Huh. Maybe we could have finally gotten back the lost Apollo 11 moon landing footage if we hadn’t accidentally cut it up for vintage film Pinterest projects. Or maybe that placemat mat of vintage paper strips was really the key to the Voynich Manuscript. Oops.

So I really prefer keeping books intact and legible for other readers. All that said, I’m okay with some book art, particularly that which preserves the book or that which uses non-rare and non-mint books. And I really like this Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs series.

The books’ plots or characters are captured very simply. It’s fun. And for the most part, it’s using cheap copies like 1960s pulp editions of plentiful titles, not quite as destructive.

You can see the whole collection here.

UPDATE: Apparently there’s been a very recent breakthrough in the Voynich manuscript! Well, there goes my plot. ;-) It’s still far, far from translated, though; they’ve managed to get 10 words in about 2 years of work.

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