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Grangerise

A work has been grangerised if illustrations have been added from other sources, usually other books. In a transferred sense, the verb can refer to the mutilation of books by removing their illustrations for this purpose.

He wore an ill-fitting frock-coat and a paper collar, and he showed me, as his great treasure and interest, a large Bible which he had grangerised with photographs of pictures.

Tono-Bungay, by H G Wells, 1909.

It’s an eponym. It commemorates James Granger, who would have lived and died as an obscure parish priest (he was vicar of Shiplake in Oxfordshire from 1747 until his death in 1776), had he not been an early and avid collector of portrait prints, amassing in his lifetime some 14,000 of them. In 1769 he published A Biographical History of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution, which combined a chronological catalogue of prints with biographical information. This was a huge success, even among people who didn’t collect portrait prints, and went through several editions.

Grangerisation is also known as extra-illustration. It was a popular pursuit in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The method was to mount illustrations on sheets of the same size as the book you were grangerising, remove the binding, interpolate the extra sheets and rebind the book. Granger never grangerised — he kept his prints loose in portfolios — and it’s unfair to his memory that his name became attached a century after his death to this scrapbookish hobby.

The most extraordinary example of the type is known inaccurately as the Kitto Bible, actually a copy of John Kitto’s Pictorial Bible of 1838. This was originally in three volumes but had been extended by James Gibbs, a London bookbinder and print-seller, to 60 large volumes that contained 30,000 engravings, woodcuts, drawings, watercolours and printed pages from early bibles.

Page created 16 Jul. 2011

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Last modified: 16 July 2011.