Found this beautiful selection of decorated initials while browsing a volume of the Studio – an old magazine about fine and applied arts.
All these samples of book art are a part of a greater contest held by the magazine in 1905, that included other nominations like photography and drawing as well as decorated initials.
The prize for the first place was 1 Guinea and Half-a-Guinea for the second place. In modern money, depending on the inflation calculator you use, it’s something between $100 and $400.
I’d say that first two places look rather generic today. But for 1905 they should have been very appropriate.
Here are some close-ups:
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