1672 Inscriptions

The first scribbling appearing on the title page.

In the images no the left and right there are random scribblings of the letters “d” “b” and “r.” Perhaps the owner of the book might have been practicing as at this time he might have learning how to write, as owners of this book could have been as young as 6 or 7. Interestingly enough on the back of the title page leaf (image on the right) the word “orbis” is punctured with a needle or a sharp object thus showing up in mirrored writing along with the black fountain pen markings.

appears upside down

The word on the left which appears upside down next to a scribbling in the textbook, is “Carwardine.” Having researched the word “Carwardine” in newspaper periodicals it only shows up once in The Argus for Saturday, May 13, 1892 on page 10 updating people on the news of Friday evening. The small excerpt reads “several wagon loads came in yesterday, and a local soap maker, W.H. Carwardine, has received an consignment brought up by a traction-engine whereby a considerable saving was effected. The “W.H. Carwardine” which shows up in records comes up with the dates 1855-1929 attached to it showing that he may have been a Reverend and a soap maker and lived for 74 years.

In addition between the years 1761-1824 throughout Gloucester, Middlessex, Sussex, Kent, Worcestershire and Hereford there are 83 records of the name “Carwardine” for both males and females based on the Census and voting records.

If one were to fixate on the article with the name in it coming from the Argus, we must keep in mind that the Argus is a local newspaper based in Brighton and Hove in East Sussex founded in 1880.

The image on the right is at the bottom left of the recto of a leaf and it looks like someone was either practicing or scribbling the letter “f” or long “s.”

Abraham Pearce appears on one of the pages. One of the assumptions is that Abraham Pearce might have been one of the owners of this book at some point. Although the book itself is a 1672 copy, there are two records from England (from the Cornwall census) that Abraham Pearce may have been Christened on the 29th of February 1824 in Crowan, Cornwall and married on the 24th of December 1846 in Crowan Cornwall to Alice Rodda. Another census shows another Abraham Pearce born c. 1825, born in Cornwall and living in Pennington, Lancashire with his wife Esther.

If either of these two were the owners of this copy of the Orbis Pictus, when the article in the Argus came up in 1893 “Abraham Pearce” might have been 67-69 years old.

Of course those are two likely answers, however it may be completely inaccurate as we cannot be sure it was either of the two or an acquaintance of his. It is only an interpretation of what the inscription may mean.

Source: International Genealogical Index, christenings (1813-1869), Batch # C022261; marriages (1754-1854), Batch # M022262; England Census records

The image on the right looks exactly as it does in real life which is indecipherable. The scribbling is in pencil and it goes beneath the page number. It is hard to identify what it says.

“Astronomia confidesat?”

  The image on the left has several inscriptions and signatures (not easily recognizable).


1777 Inscriptions

Back cover

  As mentioned previously, the 1777 copy has been preserved without many markings or tears. The only visible ink inscription on this copy of the book is on the back cover where there are simply a few scribblings. “J Avery is” and “mai” are the potential inscriptions, though not much can be found of what those two might mean due to the limitations on the initial “J” which unlike Abraham Pearce does not have a complete name.

1672 Watermark

The most frequent encounter of a watermark in the 1672 edition.

The Design of this watermark was difficult to pin down as to what it could be, although one interpretation was “Dragon” while others were “a tail of an animal” from the few people who

The one page that looked different than the previous one which was the frequently encountered one.

have glanced at it.  The watermarks were mainly on the top of the recto of a leaf (top right corner).

Due to the apparance of the photo on right’s design, I have considered the watermark to be the design of a jester’s hat.

Small glipse of a watermark on some pages.

Trying to piece the watermark together by the few glimpses of it, I placed the two photos next to each other in a way where the lines merge on Photoshop to see if a clearer image would emerge.

The attempt to unite the two watermarks into a clear picture of what it may be

1672 Third Edition ~ First Glance

The spine and front cover. Photograph taken at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books.

John Amos. Orbis Sensualium Pictus. 3th ed. London: 1672. Print.

The front and back cover of the book is dark brown and worn has been rounded at the corners which once used to be square. It is leather.  There is a lighter brown along the edge between the spine and the cover due to frequent opening.

The book is 16 cm long, 10cm wide and 3.1 cm thick. The leaves of the book however, are slightly smaller than the book as they are measured as 15.4 cm in Length and 9.4 cm in width.

The paper is clearly laid paper and has vertical chain lines. It is clearly an octavo.

The spine (more intact than the private copy 1777).

The spine itself is completely intact and dark leather brown as the two covers are. When the book was picked up at the Osborne Children’s Library it was safely placed inside a box.  All pages and gatherings are glued remaining in the codex.

Neither on the cover nor on the spine is there an inscription or ornaments in any form of tooling or engraving, however on the spine there are 4 ridges evenly spaced out. 

Pages worn out in, particularly around the corners. Picture taken at the Osbore Collection of Early Children’s Books.

There are no end papers as the book goes straight from the leather pages to the inside of the cover being a light gray with parts of the brown leather around it and then straight to the title page.

The page numbers are at the top centre page in brackets. Unlike the other two versions of the same work, this earlier version has an illustration on a separate page than the writing, whereas the other two contain an illustration on every page.

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.


  1. There are no end pages
  2. The words within the work appear in Gothic as well as regular.
  3. In much better shape than the 1777 versions.
  4. The word “ORBIS” which appears on the title page appears to have been punctured in small dots as on the back of the title page leaf it appears to be slightly raised as if it was Braille yet it is not. It looks as if someone took a needle and did that to the word “ORBIS” only.

    Outer rectangle clearly demonstrates a pressing and the hatch crossing work shows it is metal work and not a woodcut. Picture taken at the Osborne Library.

  5. No cover tooling or ornaments in any way.
  6. There are random inscriptions throughout the book including right on the title page, yet it is not exactly marginalia. It looks more like a little child trying to get the letter “b” right by repeating it, and at some points there are actual signatures (will discuss at length in the “Marginalia/Inscription” category.


In this 1672 copy of the Orbis Pictus the illustrations are in fact pressed on the sheet with metal as one can see from the outer rectangle surrounding the image itself. By reading about Comenius’ grand work we can find that it is in fact copper that is used, though it is not a first glance observance.

The one obvious way the copper work stands out as different from the woodcuts is through the hatching work done on some illustrations which will be discussed in the “Illustrations” category.

 As mentioned previously each illustration takes place on a different page than the text.

This book contains circular illustrations as well and the first few pages also have elongated pictures however, they are different in content (how they are drawn).

Inside cover (both look similar light gray colour) Does not have endpapers the next page is directly title page.

Corner of front cover


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.

Orbis Pictus Award

Orbis Pictus Award Seal

   The Orbis Pictus Award for outstanding nonfiction for children was established in 1989 by the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF ENGLISH. The NCTE Orbis for outstanding nonfiction for children commemorates the work of John Amos Comenius’s, Orbis Pictus: The World Illustrated, published in English in 1658. Historically, this is considered the first book actually planned and published for children, its goal was to teach children about their world. The goal of the Orbis is to encourage the production of high-quality non-fiction and to promote its use in the classroom.

The NCTE Committee on the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-fiction for children established the criteria of excellence and meets annually to select the winner of any Honor Books. The first award was presented in 1990 to The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz.

The above excerpt is taken from The Coninum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature available at the Osborne Collection at the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library (Reference only) 

Person, Diane G., and Bernice E. Cullinan. “Orbis Pictus Award.” The Coninum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. New York, London: 2001. 603. Print

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.