The National Art Library is one of the top art libraries in the world. The strengths of the collection are in the range and depth of materials concerning fine and decorative arts and art and design. In fact, with over one million items it has the most extensive collection on this subject matter in the world. Being that it is a library concerning art, books are collected both for their contents and for their aesthetic value. There are thirty thousand visitors to the library each year, and as it is closed access, patrons order books in advance. Everything is requested via an online system. When a request comes in it is to be retrieved within 20-40 minutes and is then on reserve for 3 days and is issued to the patron through a counter clerk.
|Book of Hours|
|da Vinci Codex Facsimile|
|David Copperfield Manuscript|
We were fortunate enough to see a few special items in the collection such as the three in the photographs I've included here: a book of hours from Paris ~1400 (I think this was the oldest library item I handled during the trip), an exact facsimile of a da Vinci codex featuring his drawings, ideas and examples of mirror writing from 1493 (this is important as this facsimile was completed during his lifetime) and an original Dickens manuscript of David Copperfield (in his own hand!).
A group of us followed our artsy morning with a trip to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for lunch. We sat in the basement of the pub, rebuilt in 1667 and I had a tasty fish pie. I walked back to the dorm after lunch and stopped in a few shops, and noticed an awesome squirrel sign hanging on a building that had no corresponding business. I did a little research and found out it was quite a well-known sign representing Goslings Bank which was around since 1743 but was long ago acquired by Barclay's. I personally think that Barclay's should have adopted this as their logo.