Skip to main content
The Collation

This post is brought to you by the letter L

Nomotechnia, fol. 1

A cadel initial “L” with anthropomorphic features on leaf 2 of Augustine Vincent’s copy of Nomotechnia, by Henry Finch (1607) [click on image to enlarge]

This letter L is an example of a cadel initial, or lettre cadeau, with anthropomorphic features; that is, it is a letter created out of knot-work and caricatured or grotesque faces of people (actually, it is zoomorphic as well, with that lovely panting dog). It appears on leaf 2 of Folger MS V.a.320, an English manuscript version of Sir Henry Finch’s Nomotechnia, viz. the art of law that was copied in 1607, possibly by the herald and antiquarian Augustine Vincent, who signs the last page, and whose initials adorn the limp vellum binding. 1

Each of the four books of this treatise begins with a carefully worked-out flourished initial, but none as elaborate as the initial L. If you click to enlarge the image below and look closely, you’ll see pencil outlines underneath the pen flourishes; you can also see a date, 23 May 1607, written into the two compartments in the stem of the initial T (image on the far right). 

  1. Finch’s work did also appear in print; it was published in Law French in 1613 and in English in 1627.