I can only afford the reprinted version of Johnny Carrera/Quercus Press revival of a reference masterpiece, but watching the effort that went into it the painstaking detail highlights the artistry, craftsmanship and dedication that books ignite in the hearts of those still committed to the craft of bookmaking.
The “Webster’s Project” started in the summer of 1996 before I began my second year studying at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. At my grandmother’s farm in Maryland, under my grandfather’s favorite reading chair, I discovered a tattered 1898 edition of the International Dictionary. I’d always wanted one of these big old Webster’s and I figured it would make a great repair project. While I was repairing the paper, re-lining the spine, and backing it with an extended alum tawed lining which I used to attach new split boards, and covering the book with alum-tawed goat, a classmate showed me a Sunday Globe Magazine article about the Merriam-Webster Co. in Springfield, MA. While repairing the book I had become somewhat obsessed with the engravings which were ganged together and printed at the back of the dictionary as the Illustrated Webster’s and I had been thinking about making a kind of miniature dictionary filled with these images.
Carrera cleaned and restored over 1,500 engravings from the Webster’s 1898 International Dictionary (found underneath his grandfather’s chair). The $3,500 deluxe full leather edition seems a fair bargain considering all the work that went into crafting each copy. Print is dead! Long live print!