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Over a century ago, before photography took over the world, reference books were illustrated by huge teams of skilled artists.
People’s curiosity about the world was growing. It was the age of the great museums, of encyclopedia, of the cataloguing of knowledge. Steamships, trains and cars meant travelling was something that more and more people could do. And developments in colour printing meant even those who couldn’t afford to travel were able to browse books, where page after page of artfully arranged, exquisitely crafted hand-coloured drawings were produced to collect, celebrate and reveal the wonders of the world.
Thousands of hours of work went in to producing these pages but they now mostly lie unseen in libraries, in dusty forgotten tomes. But you can help us change that!
The Catalogue of Wonders offers us a chance to travel back to those days. It is planned as a beautiful compendium of illustrations, curated by Wolfgang Wild and designed, restored and colour corrected by Jordan J. Lloyd, the team that brought us The Paper Time Machine.
A beautifully bound, 320 page coffee table book, it will be organised alphabetically, covering every imaginable subject drawn from nature, history and the man-made objects of everyday life. From the exquisite (feathers, eggs, jewellery) to the practical (bonnets, shoes, doublets), each subject spread comes with detailed annotations, but the real joy will be swimming in page after page of colour, and seeing the world through the eyes of people who lived before we were born. If Dorling Kindersley did time travel, this is what it would look like.
A must for all students of design and illustration, for lovers of encyclopedias and lists, or for anyone who wants an object of timeless beauty to grace their home.
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Wolfgang Wild is the creator of Retronaut - a brand that shows “the past like you wouldn’t believe”. In its article on Retronaut, Fast Company wrote: "Retronaut's images are chosen to make the viewer feel like they’re looking not at the past, but rather at a different version of the present." In 2014, Wild licensed Retronaut to Mashable and National Geographic published the first Retronaut book with two further books following in 2016. Number 20 on the Times of London’s list of the “50 people you should follow on Twitter”, Wild is guest curator for a range of digital and physical museums, and lives near Oxford, England, with his wife, Annie, and two children.
‘Enlightenment and wonder’ GUARDIAN
‘Web time-lords’ TOWN MAGAZINE
‘Retronaut. Amazing.’ INSTYLE MAGAZINE
‘Frozen fragments of time. This is the joy of Retronauting’ JONATHAN JONES, GUARDIAN
Jordan J. Lloyd is the director of Dynamichrome, a team of creative experts based in London and Cambridge. We are dedicated to sharing the stories behind some of history's greatest black and white photographs through digital colour reconstruction.
Early photographic technology lacked a crucial ingredient - colour - the gap between the world as we see it, and the abstract, black and white world we imagine. As early as the invention of the medium, skilled artisans applied colour to photographs by hand, making an attempt to convey the vibrancy and immediacy of life in colour.
These people are helping to fund The Catalogue Of Wonders.
An anonymous donor