A Selection of Digitized German Scribal Modelbooks 

Medieval and Renaissance illuminators and calligraphers also used various pattern books, calligraphic exemplars, and sketchbooks; surviving examples range from one page alphabets to an illuminated step by step treatise on how to paint acanthus leaves and diapered backgrounds. 

Model books could be a few pages bound with other content, or be discrete volumes. Some early examples may show evidence of Western/Byzantine artistic cross pollination. (Holcomb, pp25-27) Scribal pattern books have been found across Western Europe, including examples from England, Germany, Italy, and France. 

I’ve linked a selection from German contexts, all digitized. 

Reiner Musterbuch, 13th c Germany.  

This pattern book from a Cistercian monastery includes animals, geometric designs, alphabets, and a map. 

Source: Wikimedia commons


The model book begins on pg 10, and is bound in with other matter. 

Gottingen modelbook, 1450s Germany. 

Formerly used in a monastery, this guide covers color choice, highlighting, and backgrounds, all with step by step illustrations. The Gutenberg link has translations available as well. 

Source: Gutenbergdigital.de

Pattern book of Stephan Schreiber, 1494 Urach. 

This manuscript contains finished and unfinished borders, beasts, calligraphy, and entire page layouts. Stephan Schreiber, a monk, seems to have used it both as a patternbook and a sketchbook. 

Source: Digitale Bibliothek – Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum

The pattern book of Gregoris Bock, ca 1510-1517 Swabia. 

This extensive pattern book contains a variety of styles of hands and initials, many with elaborate pen work. 

Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library


PDF download: http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/pdfgen/exportPDF.php?bibid=10450154&solrid=3593605

An alphabet from 1397, Freiburg. 

This alphabet is bound in the front of a biblical commentary. 

Source: Universitätsbibliothek Basel


Mid 15th c alphabet, Wittengen, Germany. 

A set of capitals bound in a Cistercian ordinary. 

Source: Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg



“16th-Century Pattern Book for Scribes.” The Public Domain Review. Web. 09 May 2017.<http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/16th-century-pattern-book-for-scribes/>&nbsp;

507, Wien, Sterreichische Nationalbibliothek (NB). Web. 09 May 2017.<http://manuscripta.at/m1/hs_detail.php?ID=9873&gt;

Cod. Sal. VIII,8 Ordinarium Cisterciense • Ars Moriendi • Varia (zusammengesetzte Handschrift) Lateinisch Und Deutsch (Wettingen , Salem?, Um 1462 Und 1466 ; 1400 Und 1550). Web. 09 May 2017. <http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/salVIII8/0009/image?sid=55bef16dac6d669c13c64505e37f8edd&gt;

Digitale Bibliothek – Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum. Web. 09 May 2017. <http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0001/bsb00019746/images/&gt;

E-codices – Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. Web. 09 May 2017. <http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/list/one/ubb/A-II-0002&gt;

” Gothic Illuminated Sketchbook.” BibliOdyssey. Web. 09 May 2017.<http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/2008/05/gothic-illuminated-sketchbook.html?m=1&gt;

“Medieval Scribal Pattern Book.” Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Web. 18 Aug. 2016 <http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/collections/highlights/medieval-scribal-pattern-book&gt;.

Musterbuch_seiten. Web. 09 May 2017. <http://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/eframes/mubu/mubumain.htm&gt;

“Reiner Musterbuch.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 09 May 2017.<https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiner_Musterbuch&gt;

The Goettingen Model Book 1/2. Web. 09 May 2017. <http://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/eframes/texte/framere/mubu_1.htm&gt;

“The Illuminated Sketchbook of Stephan Schriber (1494).” The Public Domain Review. Web. 09 May 2017.<http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-illuminated-sketchbook-of-stephan-schriber-1494/&gt;

Alexander, J. J. G. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work. New Haven: Yale UP, 1992. Print.

Holcomb, Melanie, and Lisa Bessette. Pen and Parchment Drawing in the Middle Ages. New Haven ; London: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Yale UP, 2009. Print.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s