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Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0811867184
ISBN-10: 0811867188
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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Verified 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!
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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful little book. I first saw some pages of it displayed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. The author is an artist who has carefully curated and reproduced the woodcuts and etchings from 19th century Webster's dictionaries. Little pictures of birds, mechanical tools, whatever corresponded to definitions. The book is beautifully produced, with exquisite attention to detail.

I'm not sure of the copyright status, but would be an excellent source for the graphic artist or web designer.
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