Alphabet of the Five Parts of the World


This abecedarium, published in Paris in 1863, is made up of color lithographs, purportedly illustrating the people of the different countries of the world. Each letter is associated with a country, which is represented by individuals in traditional dress, usually a couple, who are supposed to reflect the place and its population. These representations, somewhat romantic, are more theatrical than anthropologically accurate. Many are very approximate, sometimes even unrealistic or inaccurate. For the letter Q, for example, “Quebec” is represented by a woman in oriental dress, and a minaret and domes can be seen in the background. The style of illustrations is typical of what was then produced by Pellerin, one of the main publishers of the images d’Epinal. Such representations of “other people” are part of a long Western tradition going back to the travels of the great explorers. Great expeditions, colonization, and the development of communications, such as railroads, increased people’s curiosity about the world, which books such as this attempted to satisfy.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Pellerin, Épinal


Title in Original Language

Alphabet des cinq parties du monde

Type of Item

Physical Description

24 unnumbered lithographs ; 17 centimeters

Last updated: July 31, 2014