"a contagious and delirious mania"

Grangerizing: merciless and wanton

Anthony, Count Hamilton, Mémoires du comte de Grammont. London, 1794. Illustrated by Richard Bull. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“Grangerizing" a book (more precisely extra-illustration) was a popular practice in England and America from the mid 1700s-early 1900s.1 Works of art on paper that could serve as appropriate "extra" illustrations to texts of interest were mounted on sheets uniform in size with the pages of the text; the book was taken out of its binding; the extra-illustrations were interleaved at appropriate places; the whole was rebound, often expanded to several volumes rather than the one or two with which the operation started.2

The reason this practice is called “Grangerizing” came about after the publication of the Biographical History of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution by James Granger. This book was UNILLUSTRATED. Granger corresponded with Richard Bull, a wealthy print collector who added prints to Granger’s original.3 Bull produced an extra-illustrated version of Granger’s Biographical History which was thirty-five large folio volumes (The Bull-Granger).4

“It’s at once fascinating and horrifying—the idea that someone would purposefully destroy a book in order to build their own custom creation.”5 

The Bull-Granger is now owned by the Huntington Library. There are approximately one thousand British and American extra-illustrated single volumes and sets in the Huntington Library.6 An exhibit, Illuminated Palaces: Extra-Illustrated Books from the Huntington Library,” took place July 27, 2013–Nov. 19, 2013.

The practice had defenders.7 It also had detractors.8 In fact the vitriol and passion among the book collection community is quite dramatic as summarized by Robert Shaddy.9

A few quotes give an idea of this:

  • Pro: It “was a refined pursuit that enlarged and expanded the mind;” It “was a refined pursuit and a signifier of high culture;” “the extra-illustrator was a creator as well as a preserver.”

  • Con: “The extra-illustrator is a merciless and wanton killer who perpetrated the mutilation of countless books to create an illustrated set;” “the Grangerite who has slaughtered books for a few pictures is pitiless —just as an epicure has had a sheep killed for the sweetbread;” “as the aigrette of my lady’s hat cost the life of a heron, so the deed of the Grangerite destroys the life of the book;” it is "a contagious and delirious mania."

Those against extra-illustration seem to have prevailed as the practice had died out by about 1930.

Below is an excerpt from a video loop that ran in the gallery of "Illuminated Palaces: Extra-Illustrated Books from the Huntington Library."

1

Shaddy, Robert A. (2000). "Grangerizing," The Book Collector 49 no.4 (winter): 535-546.

2

Wark, Robert R. "The Gentle Pastime of Extra-Illustrating Books." Huntington Library Quarterly 56, no. 2 (1993): 151-65.

3

Peltz, Lucy (2004). "Engraved Portrait Heads and the Rise of Extra-Illustration: The Eton Correspondence of the Revd James Granger and Richard Bull, 1769–1774," Walpole Society, 66 (2004), pp. 1–161.

4

Peltz, Lucy (2017). Facing the Text: Extra-Illustration, Print Culture, and Society in Britain, 1769-1840 (San Marino, California: Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens).

5

Stephen Tabor (2013), curator of early printed books at The Huntington and co-curator of the exhibition, Illuminated Palaces: Extra-Illustrated Books from the Huntington Library with Lori Anne Ferrell, professor of English and history at Claremont Graduate University.

6

Ibid. An exhibit of these books was reviewed in 2013: Illuminated Palaces exhibit at The Huntington.

7

Tredwell, Daniel M. 1892. A monograph on privately illustrated books: a plea for bibliomania. New York:De Vinne Press.

8

Jackson, Holbrook. 1932. The anatomy of bibliomania. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Part XXVIII. Of grangeritis 

9

Ibid. Shaddy.