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4.5 out of 5 stars
Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I purchased originally for my dad... but when it arrived my wife and I got it and realized THIS was a book we could gift to EVERYONE...the boss, the inlaws, grandma, families with kids who can't read... you can't go wrong. Pictorial Websters "tells the story" of times gone by via pictures--it's cool to flip the pages and explore! Then we searched and found the matching stamp set (for my wife's scrap-booking friends) and the Flash Cards (for our friends with kids) and now the holiday shopping is complete! Very cool idea that is timeless!
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book is called a Dictionary of Curiosities, but when I think of it, I call it a Dictionary of Visual Poetry; Every page represents an endless possibility for simultaneously forming visual, verbal, and sensory connections between the images themselves, the external and internal universe of the viewer, and the flow of time. The most prominent force behind the book is love. The evidence of the incredible love and respect towards each tiny image is fully evident in every gorgeously printed line, in the intricate labeling and positioning of the pictures and a prominent space each picture has on the page. These engravings could not have found a more skilled, masterful and knowledgeable person to work with them than the creator of the book. The second force is the combination of the intellectual integrity and universal accessibility which places this book in a unique realm where it can be read on every conceivable level of ability, academic erudition, historical knowledge, artistic prominence, and appreciation for the beautiful and the wonderful. The contents of the book infiltrate one's imagination, ask and answer questions, make connections, teach and inspire.
When I hold this book in my hand, I feel like it's a miracle child of commitment, hard work, luck, providence and love. It is a special, special collection of pages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In the Artist's introduction, a point is made that this book on the surface is an "unabridged visual reference book". Additionally, the reader is informed of an intent behind the images selected and arranged in order to spark a creative narrative in the mind of the reader. A dictionary that tells a story?

When I was 6, I received my first dictionary. I was disappointed because it was a child's dictionary. Over-sized, red covers, big printing and simple words however with nice illustrations. At 8 (after much begging), I received Webster's Concise Dictionary. A proper research tool filled with words I had never heard of in my short life! Finally, an adventure to discover new words!! And thus began my romance with Websters.

This new addition in Pictorial Form is really a gem! A fine emerald green and copper gilt cover entices me to open the book and seek out this new "narrative" that was sneaked in between the illustrations. I choose a page...... in G.

In the letter "G" I find a challenge. A Guard (En Guard!) swordsman is challenging a Grizzly Bear protected only by a Groined Arch. (Which is where I would want protection!). In "M" I find a family of Mammoths grazing on Mandrake being watched by Man (Java Man, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon). In "C" a rousing game of Chess is being played by a Cheetah and a Cheiroptera (Bat). My odds are on the bat....

Elsewhere in "S" a marsupial called a Sarigue is counting the Sails on a ship, and in "K" two Knights are outranked by a Kingfisher, a King Penguin, and a King Spider Crab. And in case you need to tie some knots, well just go to page 200 for a chart of 59 knots!!

In "&" (yes, that's ampersand...) I find plans for war! 6 Airplanes, a chart showing the Ballistics of Bombs, and 2 Automatic Pistols!! Is this war??? Or is it Backgammon... either way someone needs to move that Baby Buggy out of the line of fire!

And when I thought the story was over, I found a pancreas in my book!!! Not an appendix mind you, but a Pancreas! Containing a bibliography, production notes, and more!!

And the story is never over as there are thousands of beautiful wood engravings and metal electrotypes that seem to have belonged to dictionaries of yore but have come together in a new way and a new narrative!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dictionaries use a style of illustrations that all of us immediately recognize. These drawings were designed to illustrate words in the dictionary and were designed to convey information to the reader by assisting in the description of the word.

The illustrations in this book came from the original engravings that had been given to Yale University by the Merriam-Webster Company. Mr. Carrera has cleaned and restored the more than 1500 engravings and now presents them in the form of a bound book.

The result is a fascinating book that presents something that can be viewed as a historical link to our past, or simply as art in its own right. It's a book that you pick up and flip through the pages until you realize that you've spent an hour or two just looking, with perhaps just a bit of learning.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is an amazing project from an artistic genius. I suggest getting a copy of the letterpress edition in a leather binding for your collection as well!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an unimaginably rich treasure trove that you will treasure for its richness. I know I'll be spending alot of time poring over it, giggling, maybe even "tearing-up" a bit at the marvelously poetic visual juxtapositions. Get an extra one to give to a friend. I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book! A stunning work of art? To me, it's a representation of creative genius. Five stars easily. I'd give it six if I could. This is better than a course in American and world history, and ten times as interesting! An exceptional gift for the person who thinks they have seen it all, thinks they know it all, or someone who wants to see it all. The design of the book also fuels the deeper content by forcing the images on the small pages to engage in dialogue. For that alone this would be an incredible achievement. The world class engravings from the original Webster plates are incredible. Thousands of the best engravings ever produced.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I remember leafing through an inches-thick dictionary years ago, and wishing there was some kind of extract with just the animal pictures. Lo and behold, here it comes! This book contains not just the animals, of course, but most of the illustrated entries (just picture and caption) of the original Webster's. You can even compare how certain visual concepts changed over the years, as sometimes the illustration for the same entry from different editions are included. Sure to delight all ages, especially those drawn to older graphic arts - try a guessing game where the caption is covered up and the subject of the picture needs to be identified.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is an amazing, amazing book! It's almost indescribable. A book? A puzzle? a stunning work of art? To me, it's a representation of creative genius. Five stars easily. I'd give it six if I could.

The placement of the printed engravings is not just an encyclopedic representation of the best engravings of western European/American science and history. For that alone this would be an incredible achievement. The world class engravings from the original Webster plates are incredible. Thousands of the best engravings ever produced.

The book also attempts to reach the subconscious of the reader, and by the ironic, poignant, whimsical and sometimes tragic placement of the engravings, succeeds in stunning fashion. One embarks on a historical and personal journey by perusing these pages. I could see where ideas came from, how explorers were figuring out the world as they discovered it, and the seeds for present triumphs and future catastrophes. The creative juxtaposition of the engravings, which are reproduced with exceptional clarity, ripple through the place where dreams and visions are made, stirring the creative spirit.

This is better than a course in American and world history, and ten times as interesting! An exceptional gift for the person who thinks they have seen it all, thinks they know it all, or someone who wants to see it all, because, literally, from Aardvark, Abitis to Yeti, it's all there.

Fun, enchanting, serious, and most of all inspiring to the creative genius within. Check out the videos online "Musical References in Pictorial Webster's", and "The Making of Pictorial Webster's". Both are a hoot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully put together book, with entertaining and fascinating images. I greatly enjoy it -- even my children are asking for the "curious dictionary" before bed time.

I found this great link that gives a bit of an overview of the project: [...]
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