Illustrations from rare historical books and pamphlets are the focus of a new exhibition at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.
Holding the Vision: Collecting the Art of the Book in the Industrial North West can be seen until Saturday 16 May.
The books and illustrations displayed in the exhibition are from collections that were created during the early 20th century. It features items from local men who gathered substantial collections of rare books and illustrations: John Henry Spencer and Joseph Pomfret, who were both from Preston; James Dunn from Blackburn, and Edwin James Hardcastle from Halifax.
The free exhibition contains around 30 books that are usually displayed at The Harris in Preston.
These include a private press book, The Life and Death of Jason, containing an illustration of a poem composed by William Morris in 1867. Printed and crafted by hand by William Morris’ own Kelmscott press in 1895, it was produced on handmade paper and bound in soft vellum.
Another book on display is The Revolt of the Rebel Angels by Anatole France. This volume was very controversial at the time and resulted in all the author’s books being banned by the Roman Catholic Church.
Several ‘chap books’, small cheap booklets that were sold on the streets, are also being exhibited. These books covered a range of subjects for both children and adults.
The exhibition is being supported by staff from Lancashire County Council.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to contribute books that contain some fascinating illustrations to this collection.
“This really will be a great exhibition, especially as some of these items have never been seen by the public before.
“The exhibition tells the story of the books themselves and the people who collected them. Whilst we now admire these books and the illustrations they contain through a display case, they would once have sat on bookshelves in ordinary homes, and been read with delight by firelight.”
Books and works of art from collections in the Blackburn with Darwen Library, Towneley Hall Museum and Art Gallery in Burnley, and the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool are also included in the exhibition.
Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is open as follows:
Monday – closed
Tuesday – closed
Wednesday to Saturday – 12 noon to 4.45pm
Sunday – closed
Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is run by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council