VINTAGE ILLUSTRATION ART/ NATURAL HISTORY: An original illustration of Brittle Star Fish, c. 1910s – 1920s, possibly produced for an edition of Bibby’s Annual

Green (unknown, active early 20th century): Natural History – An original illustration of a Brittle Star, believed to be for a book / magazine – possibly for an edition of Bibby’s Annual.

The painting is in watercolour, pencil and gouache on paper applied to artists board.

Signed to lower right corner “J. Green”, circa 1910s-1920s. The painting has various inscriptions to reverse including: “The Brittle Star Fish – Ophiothrix Fragilis”. Additionally bears stamp “Photograph Copyright by Ellison Hawks, 22 Wavertree Nook Rd, LIVERPOOL” and “Reeves & Son Ltd” artist board label.

Dimensions: 26.5cm high x 17.5cm wide

This brittle star illustration is part of a number of works by the same artist included in our store.

The Back-stamp

Ellison Hawks (1889-1971) was a writer and publisher, known for his science and engineering publications for children as well as books on transport and motoring.

In 1921, he was hired as the Marketing Manager for Meccano, where he edited “Meccano Magazine”. The magazine became hugely popular and eventually had a distribution of 100,000.

During Hawks multi decade career he wrote many titles including The Boy’s Book of Remarkable Machinery; How it Works and How it is Done; Electricity for Boys; Stars – Shown to the Children; Bees – Shown to the Children; Pioneers of Plant Study; My Book of Trains and several manuals for Cassells from 1930s -1950s on motor vehicles.    


Some of the inscriptions to the reverse of the drawings associated with this piece appear to relate to Joseph Bibby. It is possible they were produced for publication in Bibby’s Annual.

Joseph Bibby (1851-1940) was a successful businessman and philanthropist. He was one of the founders of J. Bibby & Son, a Liverpool based manufacturer of animal feeds, and later seed press and soap.

Joseph Bibby was a leading figure in the Theosophical Society and additionally acted as a publisher and editor. In the late 19th century, he began producing Bibby’s Quarterly: An Illustrated Journal of Country and Home Life, which, in support of his business featured articles particularly relating to agriculture.

From the early 1900s until 1922 he produced and edited Bibby’s Annual. These luxurious volumes offered readers high-quality images featuring important works of art and included articles reflecting Bibby’s Theosophical cause.

The global circulation of Bibby’s Annual was eventually over 1,000,000 copies. The 1912 edition of the annual included reproductions of works by Louis Fairfax Muckley (1862-1926), like those we are offering for sale.

Production of the annual ceased in 1922, the publication having cost Bibby in the region of £1,000 per issue. He continued to print additional books in later life including Social Progress: A Study in Family and Industrial Relationships in 1925 and What is the Purpose of Life? in 1939.

For further reading see –

For more pieces of illustration art included in our store see: VINTAGE ILLUSTRATION ART/ NATURAL HISTORY: An original illustration of an Angler Fish, c. 1910s – 1920s, possibly produced for an edition of Bibby’s Annual

Dimensions: 26.5cm high x 17.5cm wide


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Condition Report: Artwork in good overall condition, some staining and foxing to mounting board, rounding to corners in accordance with age and use (see images).

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