Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities
Did you ever thumb through that old dictionary at your grandparents’ house? Perhaps you even referenced the tome in the bibliography of your fourth grade term paper.
If such memories ring a bell then you probably recall the intricate engravings carefully wrapped in columns of definitions—a visual respite in a swarm of text. The images were often a helpful depiction of the adjacent term and occasionally an awkward glimpse at notions of a previous era.
Printer, bookbinder and artist John M. Carrera found one such volume under his grandfather’s favorite reading chair and became inspired to put together a new book.
Carrera spent the next ten years with thousands of engravings, borrowed from Yale’s Sterling Library, organizing the little blocks and producing the Pictorial Webster’s, which he describes as, “in simplest terms, an artistic visual reference of what was important to 19th Century America.”
Take the eight minutes and watch Pictorial Webster’s: Inspiration to Completion. The time and passion that went in to creating this book is incredible.
The result is more an artistic tribute and historical record than a reference title. Most visual dictionaries, heck even Richard Scary’s Best Word Book Ever, are organized by categories and groupings to assist your understanding of what you’re looking at. Carrera’s Pictorial Webster’s is arranged instead in alphabetical order, leaving your imagination to make associations of its own.
Craftsman that he is, the fine press editions of the book have been hand-printed, hand-bound and the finger tabs of the 400 plus pages, hand-cut and are sold for upwards of $4K. Someone very special will win Edition C, of A-Z, from Chronicle Books—will it be you?
Thankfully for the rest of us this affordable trade edition is available.
See the world through the images of Webster’s past. The Pictorial Webster’s is sold direct from Chronicle Books for $35.
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