Who knew that what my parents looked on as destruction of books actually had a respectable name? I would add illustrations to my books when I was young, and I used to get told off for doing so. (Maybe that’s why as an adult I’ve always been reluctant to write notes in a book.)

Page from James Granger's Biographical History, extra-illustrated by Anthony Morris Storer with prints of Edward III dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Eton College Library.

Page from James Granger’s Biographical History, extra-illustrated by Anthony Morris Storer with prints of Edward III dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Eton College Library.

James Granger (1723-76) was a clergyman whose Biographical History of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution was published in 1769. This book, which was printed without any illustrations, seems to have set in train a fashion for adding illustrations to a book which lacked them. About 100 years after Granger’s death this procedure took on his name — even though it wasn’t something he had actually ever done himself. The procedure, also apparently called extra-illustration, was of course somewhat more formal than my childish scribbles filling the margins, and as necessary running over the text itself. At a time when readers would probably have to get their books bound for them, adding extra material was obviously a simpler option than would be tipping pictures in to an already bound volume.

The “Kitto Bible” in the Huntington Library, an extra-illustrated book, is thought to be the largest Bible in the world. An extra-illustrator added 33,000 illustrations, turning the original two-volume set into 60 extra-large folio volumes, each weighing 25 to 30 pounds.

The following video shows extra-illustrations from Samuel Rudder’s A New History of Gloucestershire which was part of an exhibition at The Huntington Library in 2013. A longer version of the video can be found at that link, as well as one instructing you on how to inlay a print. Their press release about the exhibition contains numerous illustrations.

 

Literary Hub tells us about the history of extra-illustrating your books. Somehow I think this procedure isn’t going to become fashionable again, though one could imagine a technique for customizing illustrations for your e-book. But who’s got the time nowadays?

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