Wednesday, September 26, 2007

World Book 1952

Late last month I was at my grandparents cabin in Western Minnesota. People were going through some old books that no one looked at anymore and throwing out things that were mildewy. Among these were a set of World Books that had belonged to my mother and her siblings, purchased, probably, from a traveling salesman in 1952. I spent an hour or two on the deck with a utility knife slicing out pages with interesting images. The images are great. For one thing they are all drawn and painted images, when the equivalents these days would be photographs or computer aided renderings. It also seems to me that technical drawing and illustration was a more highly valued skill in the past and that fact is reflected in the relatively richly rendered images in varied styles and gorgeous colors and compositions. The attraction here is partly nostalgia, too, I'm sure, but I think they are worth a look. Here is a very small selection. Note in particular the "Cossack" sword swallower.


Allen Taylor said...

my dad still tells me that the only profittable profession that an artist can have, besides the extrememly unliklihood of fame, is a job as a medical and scientific illustrator, since there is only so much that a lens can capture.

Dustin Harbin said...

Did the "Organs of the Body" page have the acetate overlays? I grew up on my family's set of World Books from 1972, not to mention the [awesome] Year Book's we'd get every year, which allowed me to stick their little reference stamps throughout the holy World Books themselves. The Human Body article had a 6 or 7 page series of overlays, each one depicting a different system (circulatory, lymphatic, muscles, etc.). Regardless of how easy this made drawing a human body (albeit a very rigid one, and mainly just the trunk) with the help of tracing paper, it was a totally incredible thing to have in an excyclopedia. Print media, where have you gone?