Yesteryear: Vellum

Vellum. Even the word evokes wealth. Vellum. Do you know what vellum is, or do you just like saying the word? I’m with you, if it’s the latter. It’s a beautiful word.

So the process of making vellum is gross, if you are not an old fashioned tanner. I’m going to gloss over it. If you are a member of PETA or a vegan, you might disagree with me on this one. That’s ok.

Vellum is a translucent parchment made from the skin of a young animal, generally a calf. That’s enough of that!

It is a loss to mankind. For why, you ask? Why thank you! I will tell you. Three very good reasons in handy bullet point form.

1) It is beautiful
2) It lasts a very very very very very very very long time.
3) It was expensive.

Here is an example to demonstrate points one and two. The heartbreaking beauty of the Duc de Berry’s Les Tres Riche Heure, created by the Flemish painters of miniatures, the Limbourg brothers. Oh me, I’m sorry about my grammar. I’d fix it, but it’s funny.


This that you are looking at…is 600 years old. The color unfading, the detail clear. Do you think anything we have done with our computers will last this well, or give so much to our children’s children’s children’s children’s….etc?

And thirdly. If you had to slaughter a calf every time you needed some new paper, do you think Twilight would have been published?

I’m just sayin’.




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