Art + Design

Pictorial Webster’s

A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities

Featuring more than 1,500 engravings that originally graced the pages of 19th-century Webster’s dictionaries, Pictorial Webster’s is a treasure trove for art lovers, designers, and anyone with an interest in visual history—an alluring and unusual reference guide that is sure to inspire and delight.

In the summer of 1995, while poking around his grandmother’s stone farmhouse, John M. Carrera discovered a tattered 1898 Webster’s International Dictionary under his grandfather’s favorite reading chair. The loose pages revealed an eighty-page section devoted entirely to the illustrations of the dictionary: a stunning array of odd and wonderful elements printed by category. The fantastic variety of subjects was matched only by the detail and variety of engraving techniques.

“That fall I contacted the Merriam-Webster Company and discovered that the engravings still existed,” says Carrera. “I found out that they had been given to Yale University. This book is the culmination of a long odyssey to put the engravings back into print and make a book designed to educate, inspire, and entertain. It’s a record of all the wonderful natural discoveries and innovations of the time of the Industrial Revolution.”

Carrera, a printer, bookbinder, and artist, secured permission to meticulously clean and restore the engravings and ultimately created a beautiful limited-edition artist’s book in an edition of 26.

This fall, Chronicle Books will release a trade edition of Pictorial Webster’s. To celebrate that release, Carrera and Chronicle Books will give away one of Carrera’s limited editions. This fine press edition:
• Is hand-bound in leather with letter-press interior
• Has an engraved book cover with gold leaf
• Has hand-stamped edges and end papers, and hand-cut dictionary finger holes
• Is edition C of a Limited Edition of 26, lettered A – Z

You can enter the giveaway at

Order your copy of Pictorial Webster’s.

Carrera also runs Quercus Press in Waltham, MA. He’s posted a wonderful video on Vimeo showing how the fine press edition was made.

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Patti Quill
Marketing & Publicity Manager

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