Notable Women


Women in History

Willis J. Abbot’s 1913 book reveals some interesting things regarding captioning practice at the turn of the century. As was common practice, the book was illustrated with inserted plates on glossy stock to increase its salability. Given its subject, each of the illustrations is relatively free of interpretive captioning. Illustrations were instead captioned with a proper name, unless a scene rather than a head and shoulders portrait was employed, as was the case with the frontispiece:

Here, Abbot’s book departs from the nineteenth century commonplace of crediting both the painter and the engraver. However, the painter is given a prominent position in the accreditation. The title page reflects a nearly eighteenth century convention—the use of a long descriptive title, which expands the abbreviated title found on the cover.

Interestingly, the stature of engraving is finally raised to the level of crediting the designer of an engraving. All of the plates are reproduced as halftones, so in the case of the one portrait reproduced from an engraving, the engraver is granted an equal treatment with the painter.

Even when the painter is unknown, he still receives a credit line:

However, in the case of photographs, no credit is deemed necessary. Like the artisan woodcut artists or plate engravers of the nineteenth century, the creation of the image by a photographer is largely believed to be a mechanical reporting, rather than artistic process.