Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Look and Learn: the collections of Peter Jackson, Valerie Jackson Harris and more

The collections of the late Peter Jackson and of Valerie Jackson Harris are among the very finest in private hands.  Peter Jackson collected ephemera relating to London: many of his items are not represented in any museum or library. Valerie, who trades as Quadrille and who is Chairman of The Ephemera Society, is a connoisseur of ephemera and collects only the finest, specialising in embossing, valentines, trade cards, dance and the unusual or exquisite.

Valerie is very aware that these are both museum-quality collections and that they deserve to be known and used by scholars and enthusiasts. Digitisation and the Look and Learn platform have enabled that to happen without compromising the condition and private nature of the collections. The results are a truly stunning resource, testament to Valerie's generosity of spirit and her wish to transform her late husband Peter's work and skill as a collector into a living resource for present scholars.  Work is still in progress to digitise and catalogue both collections, but there are already 19,919 images from The Peter Jackson London Collection and 629 from The Valerie Jackson Harris Collection with many thousands more to come. It is a serious and very exciting  resource for ephemerists and researchers.

Peter Jackson Collection  © 2005-2012 Look and Learn

Valerie Jackson Harris Collection  © 2005-2012 Look and Learn

I have to confess that I had never heard of the Look and Learn history picture library, which provides images for scholars and teachers but, quite apart from Valerie's and Peter's collections, it is a superb resource. Based on classic illustrated children's magazines, it has diversified to include 64,766 images from Bridgeman Education, 21,572 images from the Library of Congress and 2,161 images from IPC media.

The formula is simple. Anyone can browse free of charge.  Downloads (apart from the Library of Congress, which is free) cost £2 per image for personal or educational use.  A licence must be obtained before any usage.  There are also fees and licences for commercial use and items from the Original artwork collection may be ordered as cards (including e-Cards), posters, prints, etc.

The Peter Jackson Collection was also the subject of a beautiful and informative book, which he co-authored with Felix Barker: The pleasures of London (London, London Topographical Society, 2008).

1 comment:

  1. Yes, 'Look and Learn' IS a wonderful resource...but at all but three pounds now (not two), it is an expensive way of looking at a single image unobscured and at a decent resolution, at least for private researchers who have to pay themselves. For example, I'm currently researching images of (specifically) C18th Frost Fairs on the River Thames: to see properly what is in the Peter Jackson Collection will cost me £20 - and most will prove not useful once seen in detail.

    I understand fully why a charge must be made; but those working in institutions often fail to appreciate the prohibitive accumulated costs involved for those of us who do not. I would happily pay a yearly subscription, but cannot afford the accumulated annual cost of downloading perhaps several dozen relevant images.