A Christmas Carol and The Chimes

by John Holbo on December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Well, not quite yet (you might remonstrate).

But it’s coming up (you must concede). So I’ve undertaken a seasonal graphic project that doesn’t involve Photoshopping squid. I love Dickens, and “A Christmas Carol” isn’t the only good Christmas story he wrote. I also like all the old, original illustrations for his books and stories. But they tend to be printed on cheap paper, and at small sizes. So I have kindly taken the trouble of scanning them in at high resolution, cleaning them up and generally making them easier to see and appreciate in all their glory. Really, a lot of these images are full of fun little details.

For tonight, two tales worth. First, “A Christmas Carol”. Second – I love the wild title page and frontispiece for this one – “The Chimes”. A New Year’s tale, technically speaking. “A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In.” Kind of an odd tale, really. (As one of my fellow Valve bloggers noted last year: the moral is a bit nuts. But I still love it.)

Obviously not just these old images but the stories themselves are very much in the public domain, hence available from lots of sources as well as your local, friendly neighborhood bookstore or library. Discuss!



gyges 12.19.09 at 8:27 pm

I quite enjoy the Drug War Carol


Steven desJardins 12.19.09 at 11:07 pm

Project Gutenberg has an edition of A Christmas Carol with the Leech illustrations, but not The Chimes. It would be a good deed if you added the illustrations to their HTML edition and sent it to them.



John Holbo 12.20.09 at 1:05 am

Thanks, Steven, yes I’ll do that.

Someone else emailed to note that the Flickr sets asserted copyright. That was just me forgetting to set the settings. But, on examination, there isn’t a Flickr setting for public domain. So I reset the images at the most generous level of CC license. (There isn’t a no-license option, so that was the most generous I could go for. Curious that there isn’t a public domain setting.)


KCinDC 12.20.09 at 2:16 am

Lots of discussions of public domain on Flickr here and here, though I haven’t found an official statement yet.


jazzbumpa 12.20.09 at 3:34 am

You have photoshopped squid pix?

Please, post a link to that.

JzB the squid-hugging trombonist


rm 12.20.09 at 4:53 pm

So . . . that Jim Carrey film was more faithful to the original than I thought.


John Holbo 12.21.09 at 12:49 am


MR Bill 12.21.09 at 1:12 am

Here’s a link to plates for The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

I’ve always thought this one of Dicken’s stranger tales, oddly overwrought, with the contrast of the terribly good Tetterbys and the gothic Redlaw undercutting the story in a silly way.. I’ve tried to imagine it as some sort of anti drug tract, ( maybe all a drugged vision of the chemist Redlaw, wrestling himself in the form of the Phantom of his darker hours), with a nod at social consciousness (is the message Redlaw without an emotional memory is degraded to the level of the ‘creature’ from the streets?). And the breaking of the Gift spread to the the family by….Millie showing up? And the influence of music?
I understand the idea expressed by “I have lost my memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble,” said the Chemist, “and with that I have lost all man would remember!” at the heart of the story, it’s just the mechanics are confusing and often unclear.
I guess I’m trying to visualize this becoming a beloved Christmas Classic and failing. Maybe an anime version is the thing.
It might be a good message in a time when a large percentage of the population is on antidepressants..


jazzbumpa 12.21.09 at 3:42 pm

John –
Squidulicious! Thanks, and happy tentacular holidays.



Salient 12.21.09 at 6:14 pm

Curious that there isn’t a public domain setting.

I guess KC already covered this, but it’s technically acting orthogonal to Flickr Community Guidelines, to upload scans of stuff that other people originally created. Even very old PD stuff. “Flickr accounts are intended for personal use, for our members to share photos and video that they themselves have created.” Blah blah blah. Note, the CG and ToS very carefully avoid explicitly prohibiting this content — that users might post content created by others is just an possibility that the Flickr folks seem to wish to very conscientiously pretend doesn’t exist, or at least hasn’t ever occurred to them. :-)

Oh, and happy holidays, everybody. (If I keep to generic well-wishes like that, I can avoid mass remonstration, right?)

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