Two Tudor Books
I stumbled upon the stylized florals of the Tudor Pattern Book while "Pinning" botanical illustrations, and I was immediately enchanted. Seeing them and knowing that these elements had been recorded to be used as reference for the application of designs across all manner of forms felt like unlocking part of a code—a surface designer's language.
Historic sources that were made and used specifically as reference material are so exciting for this reason—their influence can be seen and felt, both quite directly and hardly perceptibly, in reaches hard to fully comprehend.
In researching the Tudor Pattern Book I found that there are two such works from roughly the same time period of 1520, the Tudor Pattern Book, attributed to MS. Ashmole, and the slightly earlier Helmingham Herbal and Bestiary. The Helmingham volume, to my delight, is housed in New Haven's own Yale Center for British Art—I will be making a trip to the reference library to see it soon!
Although the purpose behind these books is not entirely known, it is clear that they were intended to both record and disseminate a standardized version of collective knowledge. It is speculated that they may have been children's primers or merely records of useful information, particularly the herbal sections. However, the stylizing and reference to pattern does seem to point to the works being used, as stated by the Yale Center for British Art, as "models or patterns for all sorts of decorative work, from woodwork & paneling, to embroidery, tapestry, stained glass, or painted ceiling decorations."
It is no surprise, then, to read YCBA founder Paul Mellon's words: "[it is] as though there were a mysterious aesthetic kinship between these 15th century artists and designers and our own present day artists." Though he did say this in the the 1960s, the legacy of such important sources is ever present.
All of the following botanical images are from Ashmole's volume, and as you can see, many include odd little illustrations of other everyday scenes and objects that could also be used for useful reference or purely for decoration.