I love books, and swords, and books about swords. Especially old books about swords. Through a series of happy chances, I own an original copy of Salvator Fabris' Scienza e Pratica d'Arme from 1606, a third edition of Achille Marozzo's Arte dell'Armi from 1568, and a second edition of P.J.F. Girard's Traité des Armes from 1740. “Bugger off you lucky sod”, you might very well say, and I wouldn't blame you. They are gorgeous, and a solid physical connection between us and the history and sources of arts we practice. They are also works of art in their own right, and as such are part of our common cultural heritage. Which is why I spent all day yesterday, with my friend and amateur photographer Petteri Kihlberg, photographing every page of all of them, at high resolution. The raw files are about 16mb per page, and the resolution is pretty damn good. Just setting up took two hours. You can get some idea of the results here:
The process illuminated some interesting aspects of the books, such as this error in printing on page 112 of Scienza e Pratica:
The original printing had plate 75 repeated in place of plate 77, and so they cut and pasted (with real paste!) plate 77 on top. Over the centuries the paste has weakened a little, and the top corner has come a little loose, allowing us to see underneath.
The end results of yesterday's labours is about 1000 images to process. I will re-order (because we had to shoot all verso pages, then all recto pages, or it would have taken even longer), rotate and crop them, and put them online for you to download for free. Merry Christmas!
Only don't get too excited yet. This is a ton of work, and what with my crowdfunding campaign for the new Longsword book (which runs until December 24th), and my daughter's seventh birthday on Monday, and the whole Christmas thing, and writing the next new book, this may take a while to finish. My intention is to put all of the images up in decent-sized cropped jpgs as soon as I can, and if anyone needs the full-size raw files (for example for printing poster-sized prints, or producing a facsimile edition of any of these books), I'll then find a way to upload them too. They are simply too big (about 4GB per book) to host here or on my webshop.
These are your birthright. I hope you will make good use of them.