Le Petit Larousse illustré
For my inaugural post, we’ll look at that perennial favourite of the curious gentleman’s library: the Petit Larousse illustré. This gorgeously produced single-volume encyclopaedia has been published annually by Larousse since 1906. As a lad, I would spend hours randomly flipping through its pages, aimlessly perusing the concise articles on just about any subject under the sun. Featuring exquisite photography, cartography and illustrations, it is a beautiful object to own and remains my absolute favourite reference book. There exists nothing quite like it in English.
The first cover shown is that of the original 1906 edition. In late 2004 it was reissued in a facsimile edition to coincide with the release of the 100th edition (i.e. the 2005 edition). A beautiful book inside and out, it features the original articles (that provide an often amusing insight into the mentality of 1906 France) and black and white engravings.
All cover designs have maintained the original idea of an image of a woman sowing the seeds of knowledge, a stylised version of which is also the logo of the Larousse publishing house.
Click on any cover for the full size image.