My uncle had these books in his bedroom when I was little, and when I'd stay over at my grandparents' house, I'd always sneak off to a corner and lose myself in them.
They were a hardbound collection of some classics: The Jungle Book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson, et cetera, except they were not only illustrated, but they were also packed with footnotes and drawings in the margins, explaining unfamiliar terms, showing pictures of animals and things, and generally filling in the backstory for an eager young reader.
I have been totally tortured for the last thirty years trying to explain these books to people, and looking for them in used bookstores, because I could not for the life of me remember the name of the series or the publisher.
And now look what Brian J. Noggle should serendipitously post up on his blog...
Bless you, Brian, from the bottom of my heart.