Decorative Letters In 1880s-Era Good Housekeeping Magazine

Decorative letter W from 1889 Good Housekeeping

Before magazine designers and editors could use lots of photos to enliven their pages, they needed other methods.  In the late 19th Century, Good Housekeeping used decorative initials at the start of each article. Unlike typical initials, these weren’t simply larger or more ornate, but were creative depictions of letters that related to the magazine’s themes, […]

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Fish in Japanese Art: Hiroshige’s Woodblock Prints

Tobiuo and Ishimochi fish by Hiroshige from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of my favorite genres of art is the 19th century Japanese landscape print, especially the works by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), who is best known as the creator of several series that showed famous scenes from around the nation, like “53 Stations of the Tokaido” and “Famous Views of the 60-Odd Provinces.”  The subjects of […]

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Another Batch of Vintage Book Covers

"A Man's Man", book cover from the British Library

While browsing the amazing and often confounding Flickr Commons, I was entranced by a collection of late 19th century book covers from the British Library. The majority of the nearly 900 covers are “pulp novels,” but you’ll also find travel books, text books, and other miscellany. Last month I shared a batch of six vintage book covers, and this […]

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More Sketches by W.M. Thackeray

Big hair, drawing by W.M. Thackeray from Thackerayana (1875) - page 325

Thackerayana has too many enchanting sketches to be limited to a single post of Thackeray sketches, so I’m highlighting ten more sketches (this time as a “slider,” instead of a tiled gallery).  In the gallery you’ll find struggles with umbrellas, fencing vegetables, dancers, and more. I want to highlight one of the sketches, which I call “big […]

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Vintage Book Covers from the British Library

"Seth Slocum, Railroad Surveyor, or The Secret of Sitting Bull", book cover from the British Library

On my journeys through the amazing Flickr Commons, one of the more exciting finds is a collection of late 19th century book covers from the British Library. The nearly 900 covers are primarily what we today call “pulp novels” written for the mass market, but there are also travel books, text books, and other miscellany.  In the image […]

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Sketches by W.M. Thackeray, a Master of the Quick Sketch

A reader, drawing by W.M. Thackeray from Thackerayana (1875) - page 264

While searching for something or other in Flickr Commons, the wave of images included some attractive sketches of people struggling with umbrellas in a storm, elegantly attired dancers, and various other everyday happenings.  I soon discovered that they were from Thackerayana: Notes and Anecdotes, a book published in 1875. The book is tribute to William Makepeace […]

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Visiting a Pear Orchard Triggers Interest in Fruit Crate Labels, Part 1

(Disclosures: the farm tour was a pre-conference excursion arranged by the International Food Bloggers Conference. Although I paid to go on the excursion, it is possible that California Endive or the California Pear Board provided some subsidies to reduce participants’ costs. In addition, I received a discount on the registration fee in exchange for writing […]

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