From publisher blurb:
Old Book Illustrations was born of the desire to share illustrations from a modest collection of books, which we set out to scan and publish. With the wealth of resources available online, it became increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to explore other collections and include these images along with our own. Although it would have been possible to considerably broaden the time-frame of our pursuit, we chose to keep our focus on the original period in which we started for reasons pertaining to taste, consistency, and practicality: due to obvious legal restrictions, we had to stay within the limits of the public domain. This explains why there won’t be on this site illustrations first published prior to the 18th century or later than the first quarter of the 20th century.
We are not the only image collection on the web, neither will we ever be the largest one. We hope however to be a destination of choice for visitors more particularly interested in Victorian and French Romantic illustrations—we understand French Romanticism in its broadest sense and draw its final line, at least in the realm of book illustration, at the death of Gustave Doré.
We also focused our efforts on offering as many different paths and avenues as possible to help you find your way to an illustration, whether you are looking for something specific or browsing randomly. The many links organizing content by artist, language, publisher, date of birth, and more are designed to make searching easier and indecision rewarding.
We have made the choice not to present our pictures as time handed them to us, but to restore them and make them as close as possible to the perfect print the artist probably had in mind when at work. It can be seen as a debatable decision and we provide an unprocessed scan to those of our visitors who would rather experience the imperfections of printing technologies of old or the ravages of time unaltered.
In addition to illustrations, we shall endeavor to regularly add articles, either biographies or short pieces about books and the cultural context in which they were published. We’ll choose these texts as close in time to their subject as possible, in order to retain what we can of the flavor and sensitivity of an era. We are also committed to making available in the English language relevant texts about French Romanticism which might be difficult to find elsewhere.