Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities

Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities

One of illustrative styles dearest to us is Victorian era etching; we're also hugely fond of words and etymology. So to find a book coupling language with this visual style is enthralling. Pictorial Webster’s publication road began when John M. Carrera found a ragged 1898 Webster's International Dictionary under his grandpa's reading chair. Fascinated by the content, he researched and found that the original engravings resided in Yale’s Arts of the Book Press room.

A year of identifying and collating the sizable collection followed; afterwards a deal let him borrow the cuts and technical considerations began. The fine press edition is printed using genuine letterpress techniques—the very same techniques utilized to print the original dictionaries. Included are 1,500 of the 12,000 total engravings that John catalogued, which form "an artistic visual reference of what was important to 19th Century America": animals, bugs, sea life, exclusive examples of flora and fauna, mysterious machines and curious objects peculiar to the time.

Due to printing costs, most illustrations in the original were shrunk to scales of less than one inch. This rejuvenation pays proper tribute to the excruciating detail put into each, presenting them scaled to 115% of the original size. The images look clearer than ever before—we were mesmerized, lingering long on each image, savouring the nuance.

Co-written with Ryan Eyraud.