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The Letter B, from The Alphabet

A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.




Master E. S.
German, active c. 1450-1467

About this artwork

Before printing pictures from engraved copper plates developed as a practice, goldsmiths and other metalworkers were the only craftsmen to use sharp pointed tools to incise designs in metal, decorating armor, jewelry, and liturgical objects. The first designs to be filled with ink and pressed onto paper appeared in the Rhine Valley around 1430.
Known only by the monogram that appears on some of his designs, the goldsmith Master E. S. became one of the most prolific engravers in Germany. This rare print is one of 23 letters; medieval alphabets lacked j, v, and w. Although the purpose of the series is not fully known, the letters were likely intended to be designs for manuscript illuminators.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Master E.S.


The Letter B, from The Alphabet


Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1466–1467


Engraving in black on ivory laid paper


Sheet, trimmed within platemark: 13.7 × 11.3 cm (5 7/16 × 4 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Clarence Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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