Wunderkammer is a collection of high resolution images from old books in the Hagströmer Medical Library. Some of my favorites are sea anemones, nerve cells, rooster chasing off a monster, 16th Century eye surgery, muscles and bones of the hand and arm, elephant-headed humanoid and cupping. It can also be browsed by tag, broken up into subject (e.g. beast), emotion (e.g. strange), technique (e.g. chromolithography) and era (e.g. 18th Century). Once you've exhausted the pleasures of the Wunderkammer, venture into the Bibliotheca Systema Naturae, with scans from more books in the Hagströmer Medical Library, such as portraits of patients and Goethe's theory of optics.
In "An Edwardian Package Holiday," Kirsty Hooper mentions the role that "lively representations" in illustrated travel books such as Spain Revisited: A Summer Holiday in Galicia and A Corner of Spain played in promoting northwest Spain to British tourists (more here). Many other richly illustrated travel books from the same period are available online, perhaps most notably the "Beautiful England" and "Beautiful Ireland" series published by Blackie & Son and the wide variety of titles published by A & C Black. [more inside]
The Book Graphics blog collects thousands of gorgeous covers and illustrations, with special emphases on Russian artists, fairy tales, and antiquarian books.
Fans of the late Richard Scarry may be happy to know that a new book featuring Scarry's favorite character Lowly Worm is due on the shelves this autumn. From the Guardian article: "The book will feature one of Scarry's best-loved and most ubiquitous [and mysterious] characters, the alpine-hatted, singly-shod Lowly Worm, who drives an applecar and was probably the first worm in space." [more inside]
"Seventy two specimens of castes in India". This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-colour hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India at that time. Search or browse (recommended) all the images, in very good resolution, from Yale's Beinecke Library. [more inside]
Book of the Month is a feature that the University of Glasgow Library has been running for over a decade now. The format is simple, a single book is selected from their collections, written up and accompanied by pictures, maps and photographs scanned from the books. With over a 100 books to select from, it's hard to know where to start, but anywhere is good because they're all lovely. Still, here are a few, Charles Darwin's The Expression of the emotions in man and animals, a beautiful 15th century illuminated copy of Livy's Roman history, Treatises on Engines and Weapons, Valentines and Dabbities, The Birds of Australia, Facts and Observations on the Sanitary State of Glasgow, Ibn Jazla's The arrangement of bodies for treatment and finally, The Curious Case of Mary Toft, MetaFilter superstar.
The Saddest Bear of All. A children's book about a young girl's friendship with a morose bear. [via mefi projects]
Ice:A Victorian Romance, is an exhibition of fifty-five rare books and journals, with lovely illustrations. [more inside]
With the advent of December comes the annual ranking of the book industry's over-saturated market. Along with the garden variety Best Books of 2008 lists, niche critics weigh in on the best cookbooks (baking and regular), most trustworthy business publications, best children's book illustrations, safest bets for literary holiday gifts, and, of course, the prettiest book covers.
Beautiful, vintage children's books from the Netherlands. If you click on the cover you can get close-ups of the entire book, page by page. 655 picture books from 1810 to 1950. Some examples: The Willows l Bellaroontje l Flower Children l The Circus l The Sparrow and the Starling. There are 67 extraordinary collections in The Memory of the Netherlands. [more inside]
Born in Bohemia, Wenceslas (Vaclav) Hollar (wikipedia; illustrated chronology of his life; essay on Hollar) was one of the leading etchers and illustrators of the middle 17th Century, working primarily in England and Belgium. The University of Toronto has placed almost his entire works online, including more than 4,000 images and some complete illustrated books. Some favorites: the man himself; simple, powerful Illustrations of Genesis; The Pack of Knaves; Elephants and Flowers; Shells; Fitting out a Hull; and Muffs (sfw). Most images are zoomable, and you can create marked lists and compare images side by side.
The children's book illustrators archive. Czeschka - Die Nibelungen; Nielsen - Hansel and Gretel; Goble - Japanese Fairy Tales; Dulac - Arabian Nights; Pavlishin - Folktales of the Amur; Finlay - The Ship of Ishtar; Detmold - The Arabian Nights; Crane - Flora Feast; Kirin - Croatian Tales of Long Ago; Clarke - Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination; Collard - British Fairy Tales, and; more Rackham in the gallery then you can shake a pen at.
The Memory of The Netherlands is an extensive digital collection of illustrations, photographs, texts, film and audio fragments from a large variety of Dutch cultural institutions. There are about 50 collections (in english).
"I follow a dog chasing some invisible bird." Four Stories: Some of the most breathtaking woodcuts I've seen a good while illustrating four sparse but moving stories. After a decade of metafiction and Raygun typography, this letterpressed book of mythic narrative is refreshing, and inspiring.
A Flash-heavy "Illustrated Complete Summary of Gravity's Rainbow". Includes an Episode Guide and a gallery of related art. See also the Wikipedia entry if you want some background, including a link to an online concordance.
Illuminated manuscripts are truly a joy to behold. And there are a remarkable number of them available on the web for your viewing pleasure. The most famous illuminated MS is the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. For galleries with multiple images, try the resources at DScriptorium, Web Gallery of Art, and the Leaves of Gold exhibition. Elyse Boucher's page is a work-in-progress detailing the history and methods of illuminating books, with both images and secondary sources; see also Sue Wood's Art and Books page.
Palmer Cox created the famous Brownie characters in 1883, and a successful series of children's books detailing their adventures. These are the characters that George Eastman chose for promoting the Brownie line of Kodak cameras.
"This vellum-bound curiosity is one of the rarest and most mysterious etching suites of the late Renaissance." Braccelli's fantastic drawings are excellent examples of early (early, early) surrealism. For higher quality images, try this link instead.