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Read, Watch and Listen

Remote Sensing

Wax crayon and watercolour 2009

©Rose Ferraby

There are many ways of seeing into the earth. Remote sensing is increasingly used in archaeology as a non-intrusive method of mapping large areas of landscape. This allows us to reveal the relationships of archaeological features over large scales and time periods. This drawing is based on a survey undertaken with the British School at Rome near Tivoli, Italy. The regimented lines of a Roman villa are surrounded by the smooth quiet of undisturbed land.



Digital Photograph 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Peeling off the turf and exploring the layers that lie beneath allows a unique view into the earth and our relationship with it. The process allows a close and tacit understanding. The archaeologist’s hand learns the feel of loams and grits, fills and cuts. These long remembered details and textures build a material memory of the archaeological.


Green Stone Axe

Wax crayon and watercolour 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Archaeological contexts can reveal rich material that we must learn to understand. Drawing is a way of becoming acquainted with the forms and details. It is a way of thinking through the material and tracing it to memory. This is a study of a Neolithic axe, whose stone is sourced from a Neolithic quarry in the Langdales, Cumbria. The work formed part of a book ‘Stonework’ (Edmonds and Ferraby 2013) with Professor Mark Edmonds of York University.


Purbeck Underground

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

My interest in stone has led me to explore deeper into the land. Quarries offer an extraordinary view into the earth: a rich ground for cultural geologies. This is one of the underground ‘quarrs’ where quarrymen extracted particular beds of limestone before modern machinery made large scale open cast quarries viable. The long exposure photography was a way of slowly absorbing this unique space.


Portland Mine

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

Beneath the fields of Portland, Dorset, a new mine is hollowing the earth. Portland stone has been used for building for over a thousand years. It is found throughout the City of London and in some of our most famous buildings. Jordan’s Mine (Albion Stone Ltd) is itself an inverted architecture. Beneath the ground, its angular and regimented corridors are a photographer’s dream. 


Cliff Quarry

Charcoal, graphite and conte crayon 2013

©Rose Ferraby

The cliff quarries of Purbeck are much better known than its secret undergrounds. Winspit was once an active quarry removing beds including Pond Freestone, Blue Bit and Spangle. Some of this stone was used to build Ramsgate harbour whilst other went into buildings in the City of London. The quarry is now the haunt of climbers and walkers. Graffiti etches the walls over the fading marks of picks. Drawing the space allowed me to absorb it, and to learn the beds of stone.



Digital Photograph 2013 (Stone plaque: Pondfree Stone) 

©Rose Ferraby

Working with stone allows a unique view beneath its surface. Lettercutting allows meaning to be carved into stone, but it is also a way of drawing understanding from it. The character of the material is quickly learned when working in this close and precise way. Here, Mark Haysom (W.J. Haysom and Sons, Purbeck) is working on a replacement plaque for the Beaminster Tunnel. The Pondfree Stone is particularly good for lettering



Digital Photograph 2013 (Sculpture: Portland Best Bed)

©Rose Ferraby

I felt that I could not properly understand stone, or the processes described by those experienced with it, until I had worked with it myself. As well as learning lettercutting and masonry, I wanted to make a sculpture, combining the art of design and the precision of masonry. I created this piece with Gary Breeze, a stone lettering sculptor based in Norfolk. The ordered process of removal gave me new insight into ideas of negative space and sculptural forms.



Digital Photograph 2015

©Rose Ferraby

Fossils give us a very immediate connection with a distant past and a deeper understanding of the land. This Ichthyosaur is just one of many wonderful specimens in the Etches Collection (Kimmeridge, Dorset). Framed by ribs, the skeletal traces of its last meal can still be seen. A tiny snapshot in time, captured forever.


Purbeck Collection

Digital Photograph 2015

©Rose Ferraby

Collections of archaeological and geological material in museums offer us different ways of engaging with the elements of the land. Over the course of my research on the Jurassic Coast, I was struck by the number of small, personal museums. The artefacts were woven with stories and memories, reflected in their imaginative and aesthetic curation. This is one of the cabinets in Charlie Newman’s museum at the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers, Purbeck.


Foreword by Anna Neagle, 'How to be a Good Hostess'

London: Spillers Flour Limited, c.1950. Kerry Group, plc.

Possessing no other qualification than celebrity, popular British film actress Anna Neagle (1904-1986) helped to glamorise the act of baking on behalf of the Spiller’s flour brand. This foreword engages charismatic legitimation, being powerfully personalised in the form of a letter, beginning ‘How lovely to see you’ and ending with an autograph ‘Yours sincerely, Anna Neagle’. It bears comparison, therefore, with the graphic and textual techniques of the numerous film magazines of the era.

Cover, 'Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Entertaining: How to Have Guests - And Enjoy Them'

New York: Golden Press, 1959. Illustrated by Peter Spier. Courtesy of General Mills Archives.

Published advice is sometimes given by invented authors, such as Betty Crocker. This cover resembles needlepoint, a home craft typically applied to domestic soft furnishings and accessories. The imagery emphasises traditional home comforts: a red-roofed home set in landscaped garden with a white picket fence is framed with a cartouche showing a teapot, roast turkey, leg of ham, pink iced celebration cake, pineapple (symbol of welcome). The cover features Crocker’s ‘signature’, and a possessive title, exemplifying charismatic legitimisation.

Back cover, Sarah Maclean, 'Pan Book of Etiquette and Good Manners'

London: Pan, 1962.

This back cover juxtaposes a pensive woman with a number of questions, implying that these are the questions on her mind. A box at the top of the questions asks ‘How often do you stop to wonder -’ thereby connecting the woman shown, with the reader. In this example visual imagery is used to provide a representative for the reader and to make the questions asked, and answered, in the text, more direct and vivid.

Textile sample registered by H C McCrea & Co on 1 June 1875

BT 43/414/291681. This textile design in the Anglo-Japanese style uses decorative motifs associated with Japanese art, and geometric design has given way to an asymmetrical pattern. Although it is not possible to attribute the design, a number of Aesthetic designers were working in this style in the mid-1870s. Christopher Dresser undertook detailed studies of Japanese design and was particularly productive at this period, designing hundreds of textiles for a range of manufacturers. H C McCrea had connections with key designers, and it seems reasonable to speculate that this design might be by Dresser.

‘The Sunflower’ wallpaper designed by Bruce Talbert

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 22 January 1878. Bruce Talbert was one of the most prolific and influential designers of the nineteenth century, who designed furniture and metalwork as well as wallpapers and textiles. His ‘sunflower’ series of wallpapers were his most popular, and his style, with its use of flat patterns and sharply delineated flowers, fruit and leaves, was much imitated. This design was displayed at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878, where it won a gold medal. The sunflower was perhaps the most popular and enduring motif of the Aesthetic movement, appearing in wallpapers, textiles, ceramics and even in the external brickwork of buildings.

Swan, rush and iris design for a wallpaper dado by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 16 August 1877. BT 43/101/313051. This is one of Walter Crane’s earliest wallpaper designs, and was intended as a dado. Crane was the first President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, and believed passionately that design and craftsmanship deserved to be regarded on an equal footing with the ‘fine arts’. This is reflected in the pictorial quality of designs such as ‘Swan, rush and iris’, which demonstrate his mastery of flat pattern design. Crane was introduced to Metford Warner, the proprietor of Jeffrey & Co, by the designer Bruce Talbert, and became one of their most important designers.

‘Star’ wallpaper by designed by E W Godwin

Registered by William Watt on 21 July 1876. BT 43/101/302033. Godwin showed a strong interest in wallpaper design, providing patterns for several leading companies. He produced wallpapers in a wide range of styles, but while highly original, his work was in keeping with the precepts of the design reformers, with designs such as ‘Star’ – one of only a few surviving examples of his wallpapers – featuring flat, conventionalised natural forms. Asymmetry was closely associated with Anglo-Japanese design, and was in sharp contrast to the strict symmetry found in the work of designers like Owen Jones.

‘Anemone’ furniture fabric design by William Morris

Registered by ‘William Morris trading under the style of Morris & Co’ on 8 February 1876. BT 43/372/298226. This original design is for a woven wool and silk fabric. It demonstrates Morris’ use of natural forms and motifs, which were the result of his careful study of the natural world, within flat, stylised patterns. Like Pugin, Morris believed in ‘truth to materials’, saying that he tried ‘to make woollen substances as woollen as possible, cotton as cottony as possible, and so on.’ At the time this design was registered, Morris was experimenting with different dyes, in particular indigo, as an alternative to the newer chemical dyes.

‘Persian sprig’ wallpaper designed by Owen Jones

Registered by John Trumble and Company on 23 June 1858. BT 43/97/114061. ‘Persian Sprig’ again reflects Jones’ interest in Islamic design. It also demonstrates his design precepts. He said that ‘all direct representations of nature in paper hangings should be avoided’ but instead natural forms should be ‘conventionalised’, or stylised, and distributed across the surface using geometric principles. Jones was well-known as a colour theorist, and received high praise for his colour schemes for the interior of the Crystal Palace. For wallpapers, he said that colours should be blended so that from a distance they would present ‘a neutralised bloom’.

Wallpaper registered by Heywood, Higginbottom, Smith & Co on 22 May 1851

BT 43/88/78974. This is an example of the kind of design the reformers deplored. In 1852 Henry Cole put on an exhibition at the Museum of Manufactures at Marlborough House called the ‘Gallery of False Principles in Decoration’. This provided examples of where British manufacturers were going wrong, the accompanying Catalogue explaining the various violations of the reformers’ principles of design. The wallpaper, intended to celebrate the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, showed great skill and complexity in its manufacture. However, it was exhibit number 28 in the Gallery of False Principles, condemned because it ‘falsified perspective’. Clearly it failed to meet other measures of ‘correct’ design, being neither ‘subdued’, ‘conventionalised’ nor ‘flat’.

Textile designed by A W N Pugin

Registered by Frederick Crace & Son on 28 May 1850. BT 43/357/69572. This is one of the few printed, as opposed to woven, textiles designed by Pugin. The flat pattern is highly original, and combines ogee forms and fleur-de-lis motifs inspired by medieval art with flower forms and trailing leaves. Pugin was one of the first architect/designers to be involved in all aspects of the decorative arts, and regarded textiles as an important aspect of interior design. Registered as a furnishing fabric, this textile was used in the interior scheme of Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, and is thought to have been displayed in the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Wallpaper designed by A W N Pugin

Registered by Frederick Crace & Son on 12 October 1848. BT 43/84/54787. The architect and designer A W N Pugin was a pioneer of design reform and promoted a revival of Gothic art, which he associated with the Christian values of a pre-industrial age. He is perhaps now best known for his work with Charles Barry on the new Palace of Westminster, for which this wallpaper was made. It was inspired by fifteenth century Italian textile design, and reflects Pugin’s belief that three-dimensional effects in wallpaper should be avoided as ‘dishonest’. Instead the pattern should be flat, reflecting the flat surface of the wall and what he termed ‘truth to materials’.

Green Purbeck Marble

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

The polished surface of this stone glimmers with the sectioned remains of ancient shells. The gaping Unio and whirling Viviparus shells give a clue as to its identity. Though not strictly a marble, the high polish taken by this limestone has been made use of since the Roman times. A band of landscape in Purbeck is pitted and uneven where the marble was dug for cathedrals and tombs. It continues to be highly valued.


The Musicians’ Journal, No. 27 (January 1928)

In this New Year message, the Journal linked its ambition to increase subscriptions with two other campaigns. It targets Armed Forces Bands for playing public concerts free of charge and undermining civilian musicians’ employment. And it scorns what one official called “a glorified Gramophone, the Panatrope, the proprietors of which seem to think it is going to do away with orchestras. …There does not seem to be any immediate danger of this Machine being used extensively to the detriment of our members.”

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 4 (January 1930)

This cartoon was reproduced in the Journal thanks to the American Federation of Musicians. Unlike the British cartoonists’ work, which invariably centres on the human figures involved, it is pointedly satirical of the anti-human nature of the machinery. Cupid’s harp (emblem of the movies’ desire to be seen as an art form) is wrecked, and the terrier parodies the mascot for His Master’s Voice. The yowling mutt turns its back on the cranky apparatus, whereas in the famous company logo a serene Nipper focuses lovingly on the gramophone horn. 

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 5 (April 1930)

Returning to its battle against unfair competition from Army Bands, the Journal here directed its fire at no less a person than Tom Shaw, Secretary for War in Ramsay MacDonald’s second Labour Government. In a blistering attack on him and Manny Shinwell (Financial Secretary to the War Office) it presented persuasive evidence of serial engagements of Forces Bands in seaside resorts and accused the ministers of evading a major social issue while 4,000 civilian musicians were out of work.

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 7 (October 1930)

This cartoon first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News. It reflected the fears of some Musicians’ Union writers about the possible cultural impact of Hollywood talkies on British audiences. One drew attention to the prospect that audiences would have musical tastes forced on them by film companies, whereas a resident orchestra could respond to local tastes. Worse, the children of England might perhaps learn to speak with an American accent and abandon their own “homely and honest” dialects.

‘Moresque’ wallpaper designed by Owen Jones

Registered by John Trumble & Co on 23 June 1858. BT 43/97/114049. The principles of design set out by Pugin were taken up by the design reform movement based around the Government School of Design in South Kensington. A key figure in the movement was Owen Jones. Jones travelled widely, researching different styles of design which were brought together and categorised in his hugely influential book The Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856. He was particularly inspired by Islamic design, as can be seen in this wallpaper, and led the way in the nineteenth century revival of what was termed the Moorish style in architecture and decoration.

‘Daisy’ wallpaper designed by William Morris

Registered by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co on 1 February 1864. BT 43/99/171341. ‘Daisy’ was the first wallpaper designed by William Morris to be put into production. Morris, like the Pre-Raphaelite painters with whom he set up Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, shared Pugin’s passion for medieval art, culture and design, as well as his belief in the intrinsic value of hand craftsmanship and dislike of contemporary British design. ‘Daisy’, formed of stylised floral motifs, is thought to have been inspired by an illustration in a fifteenth-century version of Froissart’s Chronicles, shown in an illuminated manuscript at the British Museum. By the 1870s Morris’s wallpapers were often regarded as key elements of an Aesthetic interior.

‘Peacock’ wallpaper dado designed by E W Godwin

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 18 February 1873. BT 43/100/270551

E W Godwin helped to popularise the Anglo-Japanese style, one of the defining characteristics of the Aesthetic movement. He introduced one of the movement’s most popular symbols, the peacock, shown here in the highly stylised form of a Japanese crest or mon. The diagonal ‘H’ pattern in the background was also derived from Japanese ornament. This formal peacock design was intended for use as a dado, with another of his designs, ‘Bamboo’, an informal, asymmetrical design, as the filling, or main section of wallpaper. The three-part division of walls into a dado, filling and frieze became a distinctive feature of Aesthetic design.

‘The Sleeping Beauty’ wallpaper designed by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 21 August 1879. BT 43/103/338553

Well-known as an illustrator of children’s books, Walter Crane designed a number of nursery wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co, including The Sleeping Beauty. Like William Morris, Crane believed that the decorative arts had symbolic potential. Morna O’Neill (2010) has discussed the way in which Crane returned to the theme of The Sleeping Beauty throughout his career. For example, in an essay of 1892 he refers to ‘the sense of beauty’ who, ‘like the enchanted princess in the wood, seems liable, both in communities and individuals, to periods of hypnotism’.

Woven silk fabric registered by William Fry & Co on 20 December 1876

BT 43/414/306159. This textile design was sold as a roller-printed cotton by Liberty’s department store in Regent Street, a key force in popularising the Aesthetic style, from the late 1880s onwards. It was revived in 1975 and is still used in a range of artefacts by the store under the name Hera. However, the design represents something of a mystery. It is usually attributed to Arthur Silver at the Silver Studio, but the sample at The National Archives was registered in 1876, several years before the Silver Studio was established in 1880, calling this attribution into question.

‘Indian’ wallpaper designed by Christopher Dresser

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 28 May 1879. Christopher Dresser was a prolific designer, working across most areas of the decorative arts. He wrote a number of influential works on design and design theory, but unlike proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement embraced mass production. Like Pugin and other designer reformers, Dresser believed in using nature as the basis of ornament. Trained as a botanist, he pioneered the concept of ‘artistic botany’, contributing a plate to his former tutor Owen Jones’ book The Grammar of Ornament. Like Jones, Dresser believed that representations of nature should be ‘conventionalised’ rather than naturalistic, as shown in this design featuring stylised cornflowers.

Endpapers, The Good Housekeeping Institute's 'Book of Good Housekeeping'

London and Chesham: Gramol Publications Ltd., 1946 (1944, 1945)

From a curvilinear modern house with horizontal fenestration to a thatched farmhouse via a suburban detached house, and an Arts and Crafts style manor house, the endpapers for this advice book (and the book’s plates and line drawings) provide a synchronic representation of architectural heterogeneity, illustrating the variety of what home could be in 1946, and implying, therefore, address to a broad readership. 

‘Vulgarity’, Portrait by John Deakin, jugs photographed by Elsie Collins

Image in Alan Jarvis, The Things We See No. 1 Indoors and Out, West Drayton, Middlesex: Penguin, 1946, 47. Permission, Design Council / University of Brighton Design Archives. CC-BY.

Jarvis shows how visual rhetoric can communicate class and gender norms. He contributes to a tradition of teaching consumers to distinguish between good and bad, which extends back to nineteenth-century design reform, for example Augustus Welby Pugin’s True Principles (1841). Jarvis wrote ‘…by vulgarity we mean just this kind of coarseness of body, cheapness of ornament, and insensitive application of make-up. The parallel in the case of pottery is exact, in its florid shape and crude cosmetic decoration’. 

Stephen J. Voorhies, ‘An Ideal Kitchen Arrangement’

Fig. 137 in Emily Post The Personality of a House, fourth edition 1948 [1930], New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, p. 398. 

In her discussion of ‘Today’s Kitchen’, leading US etiquette writer Emily Post was influenced by Christine Frederick’s application of Scientific Management to homemaking, and an emphasis on designing domestic spaces with a view to ‘saving steps’ (See, for example ‘Efficient grouping of kitchen equipment’ (Scientific Management in the Home, London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1920 p. 22)

‘Although your elders’ love for you amounts to adoration, a scene like this would be improved by greater moderation’

Illustration by Charles Malcolm Allen in Betty Allen and Mitchell Pirie Briggs, If You Please: A Book of Manners for Young Moderns, rev. ed., J. B. Lippincott Company, [1942] 1950, p. 194.

Allen and Briggs’s books exemplify a tendency to show in the illustrations what is censured by the text. Scenes of teenagers having fun—listening to loud music, socialising without permission—carry disapproving captions. However, these depictions of censured activity might provide scenarios of identification for young people in a manner unplanned by authors and possibly even illustrators in the absence of an authorial voice for that group in post-war advice books.

Cover, Illustration by Esme, 'The Creda Housecraft Manual'

Stoke-on-Trent: Simplex Electric Co. and London: Odhams, 1958. Permission IPC Media, a Time Inc. Company. CC-BY-NC-ND.

Publisher Odhams Press used the same visual identity across genres and decades when it repurposed cover designs by illustrator Esme (Florence Olive Esme Eve) from The Woman Week-End Book numbers 1 and 2 (1949) for the Creda Housecraft Manual (1958). While the Woman Week-End Books are entertaining selections of short stories, and tips on beauty, housewifery, personal problems, cookery, knitting, and useful things to make’, the Creda Housecraft Manual promotes a household appliance brand forming an example therefore of the ‘advertising cookbooks’ genre.

Cover, Illustration by Esme, 'Woman Week-End Book'

London: Odhams Press, [1949] 1950. Permission IPC Media, a Time Inc. Company. CC-BY-NC-ND.

Publisher Odhams Press used the same visual identity across genres and decades when it repurposed cover designs by illustrator Esme (Florence Olive Esme Eve) from The Woman Week-End Book numbers 1 and 2 (1949) for the Creda Housecraft Manual (1958). While the Woman Week-End Books are entertaining selections of short stories, and tips on beauty, housewifery, personal problems, cookery, knitting, and useful things to make’, the Creda Housecraft Manual promotes a household appliance brand forming an example therefore of the ‘advertising cookbooks’ genre.

Cover, Illustration by Esme, Woman 'Week-End Book Number Two'

London: Odhams Press, 1949. Permission IPC Media, a Time Inc. Company.

Publisher Odhams Press used the same visual identity across genres and decades when it repurposed cover designs by illustrator Esme (Florence Olive Esme Eve) from The Woman Week-End Book numbers 1 and 2 (1949) for the Creda Housecraft Manual (1958). While the Woman Week-End Books are entertaining selections of short stories, and tips on beauty, housewifery, personal problems, cookery, knitting, and useful things to make’, the Creda Housecraft Manual promotes a household appliance brand forming an example therefore of the ‘advertising cookbooks’ genre.

‘The Kitchen Buffet’, illustration by James Kingsland

Mary and Russel Wright, Guide to Easier Living, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954 (1950). Permission Russel Wright Studios CC-BY.

Hosting domestic dinner parties without the assistance of staff is a major topic of twentieth-century domestic advice. Mary and Russel Wright, leading designer of casual mid-century modern ceramics, proclaim the social benefits of buffet suppers and asking guests to clear up after the meal. Illustrator James Kingsland here provides a clear picture of how the tradition-busting buffet supper works for home entertaining.

Teen decorator, image ‘Courtesy Dow Chemical Company’

Teen Guide to Homemaking, edited by Barclay, Marion Stearns and Frances Champion, New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc., 1961, p. 205. Courtesy Dow CC-BY-NC.

This book shows girls designing rooms using swatches, models, paints, etc., demonstrating creativity, competence, and thrift by fitting a new slipcover to an old chair, and decorating a mirror frame (thereby beautifying their spaces and themselves). This teen decorator’s model interior anticipates the active learning strategies proposed for engaging audiences in home economics instruction, for example in Genevieve Callahan and Lou Richardson’s book Home Economics Show-How and Showmanship (1966).

Clothing suitable for the country, illustration by Belinda Lyon

Pam Lyons, Today’s Etiquette, London: Bancroft and Co. Ltd., 1967, p. 135. Reproduced with permission, Linden Artists. CC-BY-NC.

Illustrations in domestic advice books can undercut the advice. Pam Lyons dry passage about dressing for the countryside (‘Clothes that co-ordinate to carry you through both smart and casual occasions are the order of the day’) is accompanied by Belinda Lyon’s illustration of a man on horseback waving to a woman with flowing hair, holding some flowers. Lyon’s fashionable, informal illustrations engage a different reader than the conservative text.

24th of September 1869 London Standard Newspaper

Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson and Ian Livingstone kindly granted permission on behalf of, respectively, the Livingstone family and the David Livingstone Centre trustees to transport, spectrally image, and digitally publish the manuscript pages of the 1871 Field diary, and related materials at the National Library of Scotland. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

Testing spectral imaging processing

Onsite processing in Scotland relied primarily on applying principal component analysis (PCA) to the raw image sets. Experimentation began with this technique from the earliest initial imaging phase. The image is from October 2009, and shows the low-resolution, "raw" and processed PCA spectral images. The PCA technique uses combinations of an original set of images to construct an equivalent set of images ordered by statistical variance. Images from diary page DLC 297b/160, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland. 

Examining and preparing the diary

The National Trust for Scotland arranged for Conservator Kate Kidd, to prepare the materials for imaging. Kate is shown with Ken Boydston and Mike Toth of the Spectral imaging team. Work included stabilizing documents for handling, repairing all edge tears and tears along central fold lines, reattaching a detached page, and supporting manuscript weaknesses using very light-weight Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. Page shown DLC297d, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

EurekaVision multi-spectral imaging system

The team transported the system from the U.S. MegaVision E6, 39 megapixel camera back (7216 X 5412 pixels; 16-bit data with approximately 12 bits of dynamic range) mounted in a technical view camera with a 60mm UV-VIS-IR lens and a colour filter wheel installed for UV fluorescence studies. Ken Boydston sets up imaging system in the reprographics department of the National Library of Scotland. The LED illumination array and diffuser can be seen in the background.

Capturing the images

Each LED panel contained seven banks of LEDs that emit in the ultraviolet and visible regions of the spectrum and five additional clusters of LEDs that emit in the infrared region. A primary advantage of the system is that LEDs do not generate heat that can damage fragile pages. The EurekaVision system illuminated each Livingstone folio, while the monochrome camera automatically photographed the folio under each illumination.

Livingstone’s diary image stages

The spectral imaging of the 1871 Field Diary and associated documents produced raw image sets of 202 Livingstone folia in total. In other words, the spectral imaging of Livingstone’s diary resulted in the creation of 3,032 digital image files totalling, roughly, 750 GB of data. This data required processing by the team’s imaging scientists in order to make Livingstone’s handwritten text readable.

Spectral image processing uses tailored mathematical algorithms in order to manipulate and enhance raw spectral image data

In the case of Livingstone’s manuscripts, such processing relies on the fact that different ink types on a given page (for instance, Livingstone’s ink, the ink of the newsprint, etc.) behave differently under different bands of wavelengths of light. Page shown, MS. 10703 f.21, held at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.