hile looking up the University of Glasgow matriculation volumes from the late 19th century for a student enquiry, I came across some fabulous images in the indexes for the sessions 1884-85 and 1885-86.
When matriculating at the University of Glasgow in the late 19th Century, each student filled in their details into a large ledger, and once all the students had signed for the session, their names had to be indexed so they could be found easily within the volume.
We can only imagine the administrator who had to do all these indexes making life a bit more interesting by doing these very late examples of “historiated initials” or perhaps “inhabited initials” (enlarged letters at the beginning of a paragraph or section of text which contain pictures or figures.) The pictures appear at the beginning of each alphabetical section. I find them very reminiscent of the illuminated manuscripts produced in ecclesiastical settings by monks! You can see some lovely examples of more ancient decorated manuscripts at Special Collections in the University Library.
We have formed the most complete alphabet of these initials we can and you can see them on our Flickr site. You can see a sneak preview of some of them above. If you would like to see these images yourself or have a student enquiry of your own, please contact the Duty archivist.
Which is your favourite sketch?
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