The Alphabet of Death composed by Hans Holbein the Younger between 1523 and 1525 is the companion to Holbein’s The Dance of Death created in the same period. The artist was working in Basle at the time where the Reformation was underway. Holbein’s sympathies to the reformations’ aims and ideas are evident in the illustrations.

The spooky initial caps were meant to be lessons on the brevity of life and the weakness of the flesh. We think they are a perfect typographic meditation for Halloween, the spookiest of days!

B: features two death-figures, a dog, and the pope.
O: or drop cap, Death leading a terrified monk.
Q: (modified to be a second O) Death is disguised as a monk with a nun following quietly along — in contrast to the monk.

To read more about this Holbein masterpiece: