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James Granger Inspires "Grangerizing," A Mania for Extra-Illustration

1769 to 1774

In 1769 English clergyman, biographer and print collector James Granger published the first two volumes of Biographical History of England, from Egbert the Great to the Revolution, consisting of Characters dispersed in different Classes, and adapted to a Methodical Catalogue of Engraved British Heads. Intended as an Essay towards reducing our Biography to System, and a help to the knowledge of Portraits; with a variety of Anecdotes and Memoirs of a great number of persons not to be found in any other Biographical Work. With a preface, showing the utility of a collection of Engraved Portraits to supply the defect, and answer the various purposes of Medals.

This work, with its supplement published in 1774, and numerous following editions, was responsible for the fashion of "Grangerizing," or collecting additional illustrations to be interleaved with a text, particularly a history of a town or country.  The practice stimulated the destructive process of cutting up copies of books with plates to extra-illustrate other books. 

Granger, himself, owned a collection of about 14,000 engraved portraits which was dispersed in 1778 after his death.

"Before the publication of the first edition of Granger's work in 1769 five shillings was considered a good price by collectors for any English portrait. After the appearance of the ‘Biographical History,’ books, ornamented with engraved portraits, rose in price to five times their original value, and few could be found unmutilated. In 1856 Joseph Lilly and Joseph Willis, booksellers, each offered for sale an illustrated copy of Granger's work. Lilly's copy, which included Noble's ‘Continuation,’ was illustrated by more than thirteen hundred portraits, bound in 27 vols., price £42. The price of Willis's copy, which contained more than three thousand portraits, bound in 19 vols., was £38 10s. It had cost the former owner nearly £200. The following collections have been published in illustration of Granger's work: (a) ‘Portraits illustrating Granger's Biographical History of England’ (known under the name of ‘Richardson's Collection’), 6 pts. Lond. 1792–1812; (b) Samuel Woodburn's ‘Gallery of [over two hundred] Portraits … illustrative of Granger's Biographical History of England, &c.,’ Lond. 1816; (c) ‘A Collection of Portraits to illustrate Granger's Biographical History of England and Noble's continuation to Granger, forming a Supplement to Richardson's Copies of rare Granger Portraits,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1820–2." (Wikipedia article on James Granger, accessed 12-17-2011).

The Huntington Library holds 1000 "Grangerized" or extra-illustrated sets of books on a wide variety of subjects. Particularly rich are the Kitto Bible, which contains 30,000 prints illustrating the Old and New Testaments, and Granger’s A Biographical History of England, 1769-1774 which numbers 14,000 portraits of British notables. 

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