Blell Inventory Book

Today we are sharing one of our most challenging and satisfying projects from the last year. The Castle Museum of Malbork owns a hand-written document that lists all the exhibits owned by the Museum at the end of the 19th century, created by Theodor Blell. In an attempt to study the history of its collection the Museum researchers have deciphered and translated the document so that it could be published in a book format.

The book consists of several parts: introductory essays, the translation of the document with numerous footnotes, photographic illustrations and the transcription of the original text. Most of the book only uses two colors: black and red, with the exception of the colorful photographic insert which we printed on glossier, more creamy paper. The main challenge of the design (that, to be honest, we loved) consisted of translating the looser spacial arrangement of the original lists into very strictly organized modern tables so that all the various (and not always consistent) distinctions used by the author wouldn’t get lost. Of course, a huge part of this was done by the translator but we enjoyed doing our part as well.

With the colors inside quite limited, we went for a minimalistic cover without actual print: the title is debossed and then hot-stamped with silver foil on bright gray canvas. Because of the nature of the text that consists mostly of ordered lists, the whole book – including the cover, the contents page and more – uses table-like arrangements that hover stylistically between the old and the new.

This photo from the colorful insert shows a spread from the original inventory: this is what all those tables looked like hand-drawn.

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