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Resources for Rare Books: An Annotated Bibliography: Illustration

Online Databases

  • Catalogue of American Engravings A union catalogue that describes engravings issued as separate publications or as illustrations in books and periodicals from the early eighteenth century through the year 1820. Included are portraits, views, political cartoons, and illustrations covering many subjects and genres. Excluded are maps and ephemera, such as bookplates, billheads, trade cards, and currency. Approximately 85 percent of the holdings are at AAS.
  • BPI1700 A visual database of British prints prior to 1700, mainly from the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum with supplementary material from the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum and other institutions.  While not comprehensive, BPI1700 does undertake such projects as British Book Illustrations, 1604-1640.
  • Graphics Atlas Online resource from the Image Permanence Institute for identifying print techniques.  An electronic equivalent to Gascoigne's How to Identify Prints.

Resources Specific to Princeton

  • Visuals Database Online catalog of Graphic Arts holdings in the Department of Special Collections.
  • Graphic Arts Blog Exhibitions, acquisitions, and other highlights from the Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library.

Print Resources


Brenni, Vito J.  Book Illustration and Decoration: A Research Guide.  Westport, Connecticut:  Greenwood Press, 1980.

Bridson, Gavin and Wakeman, Geoffrey.   Printing & Picture Printing: A Bibliographical Guide to Artistic & Industrial Techniques in Britain, 1750-1900.  Oxford: Plough Press, 1984. A good overall guide

Identifying Printing Techniques:

Ivins, William, Jr.  How Prints Look.  Revised edition.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1987. Standard work on the process of printing (the process for all types of illustrations).

Gascoigne, Bamber.  How to Identify Prints.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986.

Early Illustrated Books:

Hind, Arthur M.  An Introduction to a History of Woodcut.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935. 2 vols. Compiled by Arthur Hind of the British Museum.  The standard work and still available in print.

----.  A History of Engraving and Etching from the Fifteenth Century to the Year 1914.  Third edition, revised.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1923.  Though slightly dated, this work provides a wide overview of the field.

Hodnett, Edward.  English Woodcuts, 1480-1535.  London: Bibliographical Society, reprinted 1971. Coverage of earliest English illustrated books.

Sander, M.  Le livres à figures italien, depuis 1467 jusqu’à 1530.  New York, 1941.  Five volumes.  Supplement by C. E. Rava.  Milan, 1969. As stated, coverage includes only Italian illustrated books between 1467 and 1530.

Essling, V.  Masséna, prince d’.  Etudes sur l’art de la gravure sur bois à Venise.  Les livres àfigures vénetiens de la fin du xve siècle et du commencement du xvie.  Florence, 1907-1914.  Six Volumes. Venetian woodcut books.

Murray, C. F.  Catalogue of a Collection of Early French Books in the Library of C. Fairfax Murray.  By H. W. Davies.  London, 1913.  Two volumes. Catalogue of famous illustrated book collector C. F. Murray’s German Collection.  Catalogued and annotations provided by H.W. Davies. 

Harvard University.  Library.  Department of Printing and Graphic Arts.  Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts.  Part 1: French 16th Century Books.  Compiled by Ruth Mortimer under the supervision of Philip Hofer and William A. Jackson.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.  Part 2: Italian 16th Century Books.  Compiled by Ruth Mortimer.  Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1974.  Two volumes each. Focuses on illustrations and the history of sets of woodblocks (if illustration is found in several different books).  Indispensable and extremely accurate.  Includes comprehensive bibliography of reference books for French and Italian 16th century illustrations.


Hind, Arthur M.  An Introduction to a History of Woodcut.  London, 1935. Compiled by Arthur Hind of the British Museum.  The standard work and still available in print.

Engravings, Etchings, and Copper Plates:

Tooley, R. V.  English Books with Coloured Plates, 1790-1860.  Latest edition, 1954. Aimed at the book trade, this work provides the number of plates that should be found in individual works and gives a brief description of what the plates are.

Hamilton, Sinclair.  Early American Book Illustrators.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958-1968.  Standard work for American illustrators.

Garvey, Eleanor M.  The Artist and the Book, 1860-1960, in Western Europe and the United States.  Second edition.  Boston: Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard College Library, 1972.

Muir, Percy.  Victorian Illustrated Books.  New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Ray, Gordon N.   The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790-1914.  New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1976.

----.  The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 1700-1914.  New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1982.  2 vols.

Hunnisett, Basil.  Steel-Engraved Book Illustration in England.  Boston: David R. Godine, 1980.

Dyson, Anthony.  Pictures to Print: The Nineteenth-Century Engraving Trade.  1984. A technical guide to engraving and the equipment used with illustrations.


Pennell, Joseph and Elizabeth Robins. Lithography and Lithographers.  Second Ed.  London 1898; 2nd ed. 1915.

Porzio, Domenico, ed. Lithography: 200 years of Art, History & Technique.  New York: Abrams, 1983.

Twyman, Michael. Lithography 1800-1850. London: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Weber, Wilhelm. A History of Lithography.  London: Thames & Hudson, 1966.