When Waltham artist John Carrera was between semesters studying bookbinding at the North End’s North Bennet Street School, he happened upon an 1898 edition of Webster’s International Dictionary in his grandmother’s farmhouse. Fascinated by the tiny, intricate engravings clustered at the back of the massive tome, he began a quest to find the original printing plates. As it turned out, Springfield-based Merriam-Webster had donated some 12,000 plates in 1977 to Yale University, where they remained locked away in a dusty corner of Sterling Library until Carrera unearthed them. He carefully cleaned and catalogued the engravings, and finally assembled them into letterpress-ready pages. The result is the just released Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities, a 500-page digest packed with postage stamp size prints of the 19th-century natural and man-made worlds, along with a few stealthily inserted Carrera originals. $35, Brookline Booksmith.