Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pictorial Webster's

Pictorial Webster's is getting a lot of press as a charming book. The book itself is beautiful, and the idea is good, but I'm not sure I was utterly charmed by it.

The book features illustrations from early versions of Webster's - copies of engravings and some etchings. It's organized alphabetically, with 20 or so pages devoted to each letter. I LOVE that type of illustration, with repeated lines for shading. But, I thought they chose odd images. It's full of pictures of fish and birds and insects. Listen, you need one fish, under F, one bird, B. Seriously. There were also oddly a handful of images regarding medieval torture devises, like pillories and stocks and a disturbing "ducking stool" which features a woman waving jauntily as if she's on a Ferris wheel.

The back features some rudimentary information re: printing processes, which will probably be somewhat interesting to general audiences (but not me, harrumph). In any event, I'm glad I just borrowed it from the library instead of purchasing it.

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