Friday, April 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Wacky and Wonderful Illustration

At a recent antique show, I scored a slightly beat up and thoroughly awesome copy of The Kingdom of Nature; An Illustrated History of the Animal World by Mrs. Frank Leslie and copyrighted in 1888.  The preface advertises a content of almost 1,000 illustrations.  Many of them are just amazing in a distinctly late 19th century way.  Here are a few samples to start with.  A series will follow here and on my secondary blog,

The price for this gem?  $5.00.  One of the high points of living in the dawn of digital books is that the real ones are being dumped on the cheap.  The sad part is that many will never find a home and will end up in a landfill somewhere.  It appears that this book has not been digitized.  I hope you enjoy the images here and to follow.

The Oliver 9 decided to contribute a short review seen further below.

Times were tough in the "Predamite Period" described at the beginning of the book.
The Mighty Oliver 9 is back!  With assistance from the faithful gingercat.  He gets grumpy without exercise.

Fortunately, evolution kicked in.  I wonder if he knew how to use a typewriter?

It's all good until he runs out of femurs for his feline friend.

This calligraphic type style should be mandated by law.
This is a hefty and substantial tome.  Cover to cover, it is pushing 2 inches thick with 440 pages of slight puffery that is typical of the era.  I have read far worse in turn of the last century technology history reviews.  If the title page is any indication, this is probably the best book ever written!  Or something like that.

Yep, best book ever!


  1. This looks great. These popular books tell you a lot about their period, intentionally and unintentionally. The critters in the "ideal scene" seem to be enjoying giving each other love bites.

    Very funny contribution by the Oliver!

  2. Yes, the critters are so sweet to each other. Awww.... That image has been my desktop wallpaper for the last week. I like it. Some of the family members find it vaguely disturbing.

    The gingercat is a good partner for the Oliver :) She is also a fan of strange illustration.

  3. Those old illustrations are great. Some of this brings back memories of sitting on the floor among the shelves and stacks of old books at my favorite used book store when I lived in VA. There is so much history and culture of the times from when those books were printed.

  4. What a truly wonderful book! I R NVS!

  5. Like Bill, those illustrations bring me back to my elementary school library. It had lots of old children's books like yours.


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