Welcome to illustrated books and more . . .
For collectors of illustrated books and more.
“What is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
There is a rich heritage in the world of illustrated books that has evolved since the earliest days of Albrecht Durer, when engravings were first used to create pictures that could be printed and placed in books. In more recent times early publications of Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and others gave us some of the earliest colourful illustrated books. Today, artists such as PJ Lynch and Angela Barrett produce wonderful picture books with magical stories to treasure and collect.
Those many unknown illustrators
Many illustrators have become famous for their work. However, there are many other illustrators, commercial artists and designers who remain generally unknown. These artists and crafts people have produced wonderful and striking illustrated books. This website celebrates the work of all these artists.
Shown here is the cover of Boys Own Paper, 1959. This has a wonderful illustration on the cover by an unknown illustrator called ‘Redmill’. View this now.
and those producing great artwork today
Since his career began in the 1960s Robert Crumb has produced some remarkable illustrated works including The Book of Genesis which took him over five years to complete.
P.J. Lynch is an award winning artist and illustrator who has produced a range of wonderful children’s books. These include Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, the fairy story Melisande and many more. He has also designed several sets of postage stamps for the Irish Postal Service, Posters for Opera Ireland, and a mural of Gulliver’s Travels for Cavan County Library in Ireland.
Wood engraving in books
Between the 1890s and the late 1950s there was an artistic boom in England where wood engraving and woodcuts developed into a fine art for both illustrated books and also prints to be framed. During this era this printing technique also evolved in other countries. The result was that a wonderful range of highly collectable books and prints were produced. Shown here is a beautiful colour wood engraving by the Welsh artist John Petts (1914-1991). This is one of a series of engravings he produced for The Golden Cockerel Press in 1953.
Read our article on The Private Press Movement, the Fine Art of the Book.
This photograph by Izis is from one of two books of photographs that were published in 1952. This book, Charmes de Londres, is full of wonderful black and white photographs, printed in Gravure that shows these beautiful photographs at their best.
Books such as Living London, published in 1905 with their early photographs reporting on life in London in the late 1880s also become an important record of our social history.
Lithography and Artists’ Books
Lithography as a method of printing illustrated books, particularly children’s picture books, had a golden era in the 1930s and 40s. Russian children’s books from the 1920s and then the Puffin Picture Books, amongst others, allowed artists to explore and experiment with this unique printing method, thus creating some truly beautiful books.
The lithographs in the The Matchlock Gun, illustrated by artist Paul Lantz, would have been drawn directly on the printing stones or plates. This allowed the artists to create beautiful overlays of colour and is a great example of this style of illustration.
Hand-drawn lithography is still a printing technique used by artists and illustrators today. Read our article on the beauty of hand-drawn lithography.
Preserving books for future generations
Many of the books we have here on our website are not particularly rare. We follow our interests and acquire books and ephemera that are looking lost; books that could be lost to history and are also part of history. For example the booklets in our cookbook section are wonderful examples of a past era. The culture of their time is so easily lost. We love finding these publications. We also like to rescue books on early technology. So many skills and techniques have been superceded and lost as technology evolves. It is fascinating to read an account of how early bicycles were manufactured or the early days of the motor car in the 1920s.
Fine-art prints and posters
Just some of our books
“I believe that the right books come to you at a time when you are ready to read them.”
Keri Smith, ‘The Wanderer’.