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Groundhog greetings.


 400005. New York Public Library

Did these little fellows see their shadows, I wonder?

Happy Groundhog Day to you! This image is just one of more than 150 more lithographed images of four-legged beasts that appeared in Audubon's Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America in the 1840s. The Library has made the art from this work available for easy browsing in the NYPL Digital Gallery, so go and check out the other animal portraits. (I'm partial to the prairie dogs myself.)

Lithography was developed in Germany in 1798 by Aloys Senefelder, and this manual printing method uses a flat stone surface, water, and greasy medium to create the image. To learn more about lithography, read Bamber Gascoigne's invaluable reference How to Identify Prints. This friendly guide can help you to sort your engravings from your etchings, and your woodcuts from your wood engravings. And you'll learn about the variety of means of making printed illustrations by hand. Gascoigne cannot teach you about the weather, however; you'll have to count on a groundhog for that.


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Another great engraver was Thomas Bewick. I recently saw engravings from his two volume History of British Birds online at the McCune Collection (website: or just go to the website and look around ( The engravings were very fine- showing many birds and also vignettes of country life scenes. While I was looking at the site, I also found that they had started to digitalize their collection of Henry Evans portfolios. Henry Evans was famous for his art work on plants and flowers, especially the California poppy. The McCune has quite a collection of Henry Evans portfolios and has started to put these portfolios online for viewing. Other interesting engravings on the site were images from the Kelmscott Chaucer, and an 1790 edition of Don Quixote done in Spain by the Royal Academy.

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