- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (July 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811867188
- ISBN-13: 978-0811867184
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities
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About the Author
John M. Carrera is a printer, bookbinder, and artist who has taught and lectured extensively. He is the founder and proprietor of Quercus Press letterpress and bindery. He lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.
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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!
All-in-all, this is what happens when you take a great author, a great resource, and great artistry, and you combine them: you get a great book. If my copy ever gets destroyed, stolen, or just too beat up, I will buy a replacement without a second of hesitation. I've been tempted to get the pocket one (red cover), just so I don't mess up the bigger (green cover) one. I might buy a second copy, just to have one at home and one at the studio. That's how serious I am about this book.
I'm not sure of the copyright status, but would be an excellent source for the graphic artist or web designer.
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.