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​Rare Book Room Features

Take a peek into the unique collections of Phoenix Public Library's Rare Book Room.

​The Art of George Cruikshank

George Cruikshank (1792-1878) was a British artist well known as a caricaturist and illustrator of classic and contemporary literature.  He gained notoriety with his political prints satirizing George IV and Queen Caroline as well as leading politicians of the time.  He is also known for illustrating the first, 1823 English translation of Grimms' Fairy Tales, published in two volumes as German Popular Stories (seen below).

Phoenix Public Library's Rare Book Room houses a notable collection of his illustrated books, copper etchings, a carved wood engraving and watercolors.

German Popular Stories: Translated from the Kinder und Haus Marchen, 1823

The first English translation of Grimms' Fairy Tales, published in two volumes as German Popular Stories was illustrated throughout by George Cruikshank.

Original Copperplates to Herbert's Letters, 1824

Copperplates are used in the printing process to achieve a detailed print.  After etching, the plates are inked all over, and then the ink is wiped off the surface leaving only the ink in the etched lines.  The plate is then put through a printing press together with a sheet of paper.  The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print.


Wood engraving for George Cruikshank's magazine, 1854

Wood engravings work by carving out image into a block of wood, inking the surface and running it through a printing press with paper. Only the ink on the raised portion of the wood shows on the paper.

A Series of Seven Miniature Caricatures, 1832

This is an original in a group of miniature watercolors by Cruikshank.  His caption reads, "This is the City gent that always will read his Telegraph in the street.  He has missed his 'bus' several times from this habit of studying the Funds out of doors."  As was his custom, he is mocking the materialism of the upper class.

Phrenological Illustrations, or, an Artist's View of the Craniological System of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim, 1826

Phrenology, the "science" of analyzing a person's character through the measurement of parts of his skull, reached the height of its popularity in the early nineteenth century.   Cruikshank mocks this practice with his humorous illustrations.
For more information on making an appointment, tours and the collection, please visit the Rare Book Room page.

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