Norwich pattern books
These happy-looking books from the 18th century contain records. Not your regular historical records - who had died or was born, or how much was spent on bread and beer - but a record of cloth patterns available for purchase by customers. They survive from cloth producers in Norwich, England, and they are truly one of a kind: a showcase of cloth slips with handwritten numbers next to them for easy reference. The two lower images are from a pattern book of the Norwich cloth manufacturer John Kelly, who had such copies shipped to overseas customers in the 1760s. Hundreds of these beautiful objects must have circulated in 18th-century Europe, but they were almost all destroyed. The ones that do survive paint a colourful picture of a trade that made John and his colleagues very rich.
Pics: the top two images are from an 18th-century Norwich pattern book shown here; the lower ones are from a copy kept in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (item 67-1885), more here.