Rare centuries-old book with intricate unfolding plates

Philosopher Jacob Böhme had a small but enthusiastic following who created stunning fan art of his ideas. The William Law editions of his writing have beautifully designed plates that open up thirteen successive layers of illustrations nested inside one another.

Böhme was a big influence on Lord Byron and William Blake, and his superfans constructed fan art of the highest order. Of these William Law went to great pains to present Böhme's esoteric philosophy in a way that was visually appealing.

Law was an Anglican clergyman, barred from the pulpit for refusing an oath of allegiance to King George the First. He served as tutor to the historian Edward Gibbon, who spoke highly of Law despite the latter's admiration for "the incomprehensible visions of Jacob Behmen." Law gained fame and readership as a controversialist who embroiled himself in just about every religious dispute of the age and took on everyone from Deists to Papists, Rationalists to Methodists.

Beyond the philosophy, this is really remarkable work for anyone who appreciates the arts of engraving and bookbinding.

The full text is available at Internet Archive. Learn more about Böhme at this modern-day superfan site.

Eighteenth Century Pop Up Book (YouTube / Chetham's Library)