Direct Comparison


1777 copy (Left) 1672 Copy (Right)
12th ed. 3rd ed.

1. One of the obvious differences whilst looking at the two books is that the 1672 has an outer layer rectangle which is proof that it was pressed down heavily at the printing press. This is one of the main differences in understanding why the 1672 copy is done in metal work and the 1777 in woodcuts.  In addition metal work can achieve cross-hatching and have smaller forms of shading whereas the woodcuts are more spaced out because if wood were to be carved so thinly it would break.  To be specific the metal work is “Copper” cuts. Some sources suggest that the first version of this book was first illustrated with woodcuts, then copper and then woodcuts again.

2. As mentioned the 1777 copy is 2 cm thick whereas the 1672 copy is 4 cm thick. Thus, the pages differ for the same exact content page.

3. A main difference between the two, and the reason why the thickness is a huge difference, is due to the fact that in the 1672 copy the illustrations are on a different page from the words/definitions. In the 1777 copy however, the words and illustrations are fit in the same page.

4. As is evident from this photo, the two copies are opened at the same section. As we can observe the image itself in content for “Air” is different in the two copies.

5. In addition, on the 1672 version of the book, the words in Latin appear in Gothic/Old English writing font, different from the 1777 which maintains the same font throughout.

Bellow is another comparative photograph so one may see the difference in size between the two:


1777 Contemporary Copy

This copy of the Orbis was in a much better shape than the one found at the Fisher Library. The Librarian of the Osborne Collection believes it might have been a privately owned copy and passed down each generations in a family which understood the value of this book. That is only an opinion as we cannot be certain.

As an MLA Citation it would appear as such: Comenius, John Amos. Orbis Sensualium Pictus. 12th ed. London: 1777. Print.

Front cover preserved in plastic case.

   It was by seeing this copy when it became evident that the other 1777 copy encountered at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books library was a privately bound one because this one does not have marbled end pages. This copy does not have as many inscriptions as the 1672 copy. It does however have a watermark on the edges further discussed in the “Watermark” Category:  

The spine is fully in tact and does not have black or red markings nor the golden tooling writing. This was another piece of evidence to show the owner of the 1777 (Fisher Copy) made the copy to match his grander collection.

Despite its different bounding it still measures as the other book: 17 cm long, 10.5 cm wide and 2 cm thick. (In inches that is: 6.69″ long, 4.13″ wide and 0.78″ thick)

As far as oddities go, this book only has a few inscriptions on the back cover of no particular meaning but nothing stands out. The book literally looks as if someone bought it and it’s still brand new yet it has been kept in a box for 300 years which is why the pages are slightly yellowed.

In content (Orbis Only, excluding pages before the title page), this book is exactly as the 1777 Fisher Copy.

Inscription on back cover.

1777 Private Copy First Encounter

This particular copy being examined is a twelfth edition, English translation of the original text by Comenius who wrote it in Latin (translated by Charles Hoolf, M.A.). It was studied at  the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library found under the call number of “scad” due to the collection it comes from being “Rev. Canon Scadding” and it was printed in 1777. Due to its marbled end papers and the appearance of what is left of the spine, it is a fair assumption that this book was a private copy which was made by the owner to match his other books. After examining this book, I went to the Osborne Children’s Rare Book collection where I found the 12th edition of the Orbis Pictus without marbled end pages and without golden tooling on the spine.

“The Front Cover” Picture taken at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Toronto,October 2012.

As an MLA Citation it would appear as such: Comenius, John Amos. Orbis Sensualium Pictus. 12th ed. London: 1777. Print. 

The front and back cover of the book is brown and worn away by time and usage it has been rounded at the corners which once used to be square. The colour is a light brown however it is darkened in the bottom and top corners due to frequent touching. There is a lighter brown evident line where the gluing of the spine was.

The book is 17 cm long, 10.5 cm wide and 2 cm thick. (In inches that is: 6.69″ long, 4.13″ wide and 0.78″ thick)

The spine itself is completely fallen apart. Thus when the book was picked up at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, the book was held together by a strong black string. The pages within the two covers are all loose leaves with some exceptions such as the middle of gatherings and the end pages.

Pieces found throughout the book which belong to the spine. Picture taken at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Toronto, 2012.

Between pages 38 and 39 I found two pieces belonging to the spine. All that is left is a 3 cm piece of brown material similar to the one on the front cover of the book and what appears to be a rectangle in black with two golden tooling lines. All that is legible on those two miniscule pieces of cardboard is “RBIS  CTVS” (before the “R” however there is a half of the letter “O”) and on the second (brown only) is legible “ENII.” As an assumption only I believe the prior is “Orbis Pictus” where the “u” was written as a “v” and the latter is a part of Comenius’s name in Latin which was “Comenii” as it appears on the title page.

End papers are marbled with blue, light blue, and red. At times red and blue are placed next to each other giving the artistic optical illusion of combining thus radiating the colour purple.

On the adjacent to the title page side (the verso of the marbled end paper) is a stamp in dark purple. The stamp says “BEQUEST OF REV. CANON SCADDING. D.D. TORONTO, 1901.”  Beneath it there is a symbol  with curved writing above it spelling “Legislative Library” and bellow it “Ontario.” According to the Fisher Website their “Scad” book collection is: “Scadding Text Book Collection – A small collection of nineteenth century text books collected by Henry Scadding.”

Scadding is why there is a section of books in the Fisher Library specifically marked under “scad” to represent the “scadding collection” thus the book revealed the explanation for its call number.

The page numbers are at the top centre page in brackets.                

On the back of the title Page  there is a quote from Genesis 2:19, 20 written at first in English and then in Latin beneath it. Each time the word “and” appears in English in latin it is a symbol similar to an older stamp of an ampersand.

Stamp on the back of the marble end page at the front, adjacent to the title page. Scan at Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Toronto, 2012.


1. Although every page has a catchword at the bottom right corner pages 42 and 43 have as a catchword a number in Roman numerals one is “XXXV” and the other is “XXXVI.”

2. On the title page there is a pencil inscription in pencil under the word “Pictus” and next to the word “EST” and it read as “1068.”                                                    

3. On the title page there is an unusual mark at the bottom centre page beneath “MDCCLXXVII” which could be an ink smudge from the printing press or a finger print from touching the rest of the ink.

The marbled end papers. Photo taken in Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Toronto, 2012.

4. There is an advertisement concerning the 11th edition in small font (potentially a size 8 Times New Roman) signed on the recto as “J.H. /London July /12, 1727.”

5. All pages are signed up to the 6th leaf. (6–>7 is the middle of a gathering as is evident by it being held together by white string).

6. The Gatherings being at B.

7. On Page 3 and 4 there are two illustrations running vertically (2.5 cm X 13 cm) and from Page 130–> 136 there are spherical diagrams which are different from the rest of the illustrations maintaining the same woodcut frame of 7 cm X 5 cm.

8. The signature “B4” is written differently than the rest as it is closer to the text and to the catchword, whereas the rest are centered at the bottom of the page.




The Illustrations are slightly different and the reason this book is fascinating. This is considered to be the first illustrated Children’s book, thus the illustrations are a huge part of the aesthetics. Throughout the book, on every page there is an illustration which is woodcut, black and white  measuring 7 cm X 5 cm.

A typical illustration from the Orbis Pictus. This is on page 10. Scan taken at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books library, Toronto, 2012.

Page 3. The one exception in illustrations as being vertical (on this leaf the verso and recto have elongated images as such). Picture taken at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Toronto, 2012.

As one can see in these three images the three differ slightly yet they are all black and white from a woodcut print. There are a total of five spheres one being the one in the right image, one

This is the first circular illustration appearing on page 130 of the “Cellestial sphere.” Picture taken at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Toronto, 2012.

being the cycle of the moon in a month, one is the way the earth looks like from one side and then presented in the fourth from the other view and lastly there is one attempt to show the planets’ movement. Although the illustrations will be described in much more detail these are the first hand observations simply by sitting down and observing the book for the first time on October 24, 2012.

The illustrations are woodcut due to the thicker more spaced out lines. Following reproductions of the book, the illustrations were no longer done in metal work.