January, February, March 2022


INERT PRESS is a FREE and INDEPENDENT online gallery dedicated to the preservation and EXHIBITION
of print illustrations from the century 1850 to 1950.

OUR INTENT is to showcase the remarkable skills of often unattributed artists, illustrators, printmakers,
and photographers who brought image to print.

EXHIBITS are presented every three months, with the current exhibit ending March 31st 2022.

The Silent Readers

The Book

The book is a cloth bound copy of The Silent Readers by William Dodge Lewis and Albert Lindsay Rowland published in 1923 by the John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia. It appears to be a first edition as no other printing dates or copyrights are mentioned. It is the Third Reader in a series designed to supplement the classroom reading curriculum. It promotes the practice of silent reading by presenting illustrated short stories followed by comprehension questions. The text is printed in letterpress with sewn signatures. The first signature of this edition provides instructions to the teacher on the implementation, purpose, and metrics for evaluating a student’s silent reading skills. It is clearly the teacher’s copy, and not a student’s copy.
The book measures 5.5 X 7.5 inches with a brown cover and a dark brown imprint. There are 271 pages with 38 color illustrations in a muted palette. There is no Glossary or Table of Contents.

The Authors

William Dodge Lewis, A.M., Pd.D., Litt.D.
Formerly Principal of the William Penn High School, Philadelphia,
and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Albert Lindsay Rowland, A.M., Ph.D.
Director Bureau of Teacher Training and Certification,
Department of Public Instruction,
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The Artist

Frederick Richardson was an American illustrator born in 1862. A native of Chicago he attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and the Académie Julian in Paris. His style reflects many of the naturalist motifs that are characteristic of the Art Nouveau movement. From 1892 he worked as a newspaper illustrator for the Chicago Daily News where he produced a significant body of work including some of the most widely published and iconic images from the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. In addition he provided illustrations for publication from the Paris World’s Fair Exposition Universelle Internationale in 1900. Richardson moved to New York City in 1903 to pursue book illustration. He is most well known for his illustrations of works by Hans Christian Andersen including Aesop’s Fables, Mother Goose, and Pinocchio. Frederick Richardson died 15 January 1937.

The Illustrations

The plates indicate a base line drawing in black ink with color plates in a muted and limited palette. Color plates of blue and orange are printed as overlays to the base image. Shading and contour are achieved by the gradations of a screen-like dot pattern found in all colors. This dot pattern does not appear to be halftone, but rather a flat screen of a fixed tonal value applied in prepress. There is a remarkable depth, range of color and shading that result from this printing method.

The Scans

The scans are made at 600 dpi with 24 bit color which results in great detail in the magnified view. Scans were produced using the Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner. The scans were edited to achieve a uniform aspect ratio for display purposes but were not altered, enhanced, or manipulated in any way.

At the time of this exhibit the book, it’s contents, and illustrations have been in the public domain for 99 years. When published in 1923 the book was widely distributed as a means of improving silent reading skills, measuring reading comprehension, and preparation for standardized testing.
In exhibiting these illustrations INERT PRESS respectfully attributes all rights to the Authors, the Publisher, the Illustrator, and the Copyright Holder.

The Copyright

The Copyright to this text is unusual in two ways.

The Publisher, The John C. Winston Company, as noted in the frontispiece held offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Toronto, and yet the Copyright Page indicates that the copyright was “Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London”.

Also note that the Copyright Page shows and imprint in all capital letters of a different font stating that the edition was “PRINTED IN U.S.A.” The impression (depth) of this one line imprint is greater than the other text on the page. Upon magnification this line of text appears over-inked, and may have been added later.

On the cover of the book , again in a font that does not match we see “REG. U. S. PATENT OFFICE”. This is odd in that reading texts for grammar school students are generally not patented.

The illustrations in context

Make the most of the exhibit

Click any image to open it’s media file to full size in another tab. Click again within the new tab to reveal a magnified view with navigation.

The Gallery

Cover, frontispiece, copyright page


Make the most of the exhibit

Click any image to open it’s media file to full size in another tab. Click again within the new tab to reveal a magnified view with navigation.