In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Illustrations Michael Hancher "To be known it must be seen."1 The Prospectus for the Century, published the same year as the first volume ofthe dictionary (1889), boasted that: Over 5,000 cuts have been made (many of them illustrating rare and curious objects never before pictured) which, taken together, are believed to convey more, and more trustworthy, pictorial information about the things described than any other similar collection.2 It reported these guidelines: In the selection of the pictorial illustrations, the aim of the Century Dictionary has been to give such as shall be practically useful as a direct aid to the definitions, technically accurate and artistically exact. To secure these results, the cuts have been selected by the specialists themselves, and have been drawn direcdy from the objects to be illustrated , or have been obtained from authoritative sources; and both the drawings and the proofs ofthe engraved figures have been submitted to the specialists for their approval. The attainment of a high artistic quality is guaranteed by the general character of the art work done by The Century Co. (8) This last remark alludes to the outstanding reputation that The Century Co. had achieved for the illustrations it published in the Owtury Magazine, which had been founded in 1870 as Scribner's Magazine. :From the publisher's note prefacing the colored plates in the Century (edition of 1903), discussed below. 2P. 8. An early reviewer put the number at 6,000 ( The Critic, 12 April 1890, 177; see also 19July 1890, 28). John (1981, 135) also gives the figure as 6,000. 80Michael Hancher Thanks to the aesthetic interests of the editor, Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909); to the resourcefulness ofthe art director, Alexander W. Drake (1843-1916), and his associate William Lewis Fraser (1841-1905); and to the painstaking care of Theodore Low De Vinne (1828-1914), who supervised the printing ofbothjournals (as well as ofthe Century), The Century Co. had become renowned internationally for the quality of its illustrations, almost all of which were finely detailed wood engravings .3 A remark elsewhere in the Prospectus hints that at least some of the illustrations in the Century were meant to entertain as well as instruct . Although the Century would be unprecedentedly rigorous in reporting the technical nomenclature of biology and zoology, "the popular side of the work has also been carefully attended to, and abundant information about animals of all kinds has been given, accompanied by finely executed pictorial illustrations" (7). Near the end of his Preface to the first volume of the Century, the editor, William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894), stated that "[t]he pictorial illustrations have been so selected and executed as to be subordinate to the text, while possessing a considerable degree of independent suggestiveness and artistic value."4 This paradoxical formula, acknowl3John 80-83. Fraser, not Drake, was in charge ofthe illustrations for the Century: the Preface to the first volume reported that "the general direction of this artistic work has been intrusted to Mr. W. Lewis Fraser, manager of the Art Department ofthe Century Co." (xvi) . Fraser hadjoined the art department "in the early 1880s." "The division of power between these two chiefs was not explicit, but Fraser evidently handled layouts and helped Drake in negotiations with illustrators " (John 181). Ellsworth explains that Roswell Smith, the founder and president ofThe Century Co., was very diplomatic when he brought in Fraser to help Drake. There was some question as to the exact status of each, and Mr. Smith had two signs painted, "A.W. Drake, Art Superintendent," and "W. Lewis Fraser, Art Manager." That settled it. (70) Elizabeth Robins Pennell uses the same titles in identifying the men (1: 39). Fraser was said to have planned a history ofAmerican illustration, a project left unfinished at his death (2: 28). For an introduction to De Vinne's accomplishments , see Allan MetcalFs account in this forum; also, see Rollins. 4P. xvi. Quotations and illustrations from the Century are taken not from the original, six-volume edition of 1889-91, but from the ten-volume enlargement of 1903. (The ninth and tenth volumes add a dictionary of names and an atlas; my remarks concentrate on the...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 79-115
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.