{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


The Royal Picture Alphabet


Another pictorial alphabet but no architecture this time. “Royal” is used here in the more general sense of “grand” or “first-rate”, and this isn’t the only example of an instruction book for children that calls its alphabet a royal one. John Leighton’s Royal Picture Alphabet is a finer example than others to be found at the Internet Archive, however, where the results are either very simple or, in the case of Walter Crane’s Absurd ABC, might have benefitted from additional pages. It’s surprising that Leighton’s book is a more substantial piece of work than Crane’s when Crane wrote a history of book design. Leighton’s alphabet is also surprisingly polysyllabic; you can’t imagine anyone today choosing “Eccentricity” to represent the letter E.

Books such as this always have trouble with the letters at the end of the alphabet, especially that tricky X. The Royal Picture Alphabet chooses “Xantippe”, the wife of Socrates, while its earlier counterpart has “Xanthus”, a horse from Greek mythology. (That old stand-by, the xylophone, didn’t become established until later in the 19th century.) Both books, and Crane’s volume, offer “Zany” for the letter Z.








Previously on { feuilleton }
Giovanni Battista Pian’s Pictorial Alphabet
Antonio Basoli’s Pictorial Alphabet
Grand capitals
Paulini’s mythological alphabet



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