Rottererdamsh Leeskabinet, K 1595. Photo: Arie Kers

Nelleke Moser has launched a blog about trompe l’oeil books: books handwritten in imitation of print books. Professor Moser requests information on any other examples beyond the seven shown on her blog.

These books tend to have been created in the 18th century Netherlands where writing masters and artists would produce them, perhaps as a kind of advertisement of their skill. As the illustration at the top — from Professor Moser’s blog — shows these tours de force often included depictions of random bits of paper lying in the book.

These are complete books, generally fairly short. Obviously there are lots of pretty convincingly trompe l’oeil representations of open books in early modern paintings.

My illustrated The Dynasts project was initially envisaged as such a project, but I found my hand just shook too much (just the normal pulsing of the blood, I insist) to enable me to trace ten or twelve point type without gross wobbles. Hint: start with a larger type size — if you have a good steady hand — but of course that then means you’ll have to use a huge sheet of paper to accommodate the enlarged page. Maybe we just have to defer to the extremely steady-handed.

In that context, I’m constantly amazed by the Glasgow craftsman creating repro-quality type with a paint brush in the first of the three videos at Engraving a halftone block.