Monday, October 31, 2005

Tacuinum Sanitatis

"The Tacuinum Sanitatis is about the six things that are necessary for every man in the daily preservation of his health, about their correct uses and their effects. The first is the treatment of air, which concerns the heart. The second is the right use of foods and drinks. The third is the correct use of movement and rest. The fourth is the problem of prohibition of the body from sleep, or excessive wakefulness. The fifth is the correct use of elimination and retention of humors. The sixth is the regulating of the person by moderating joy, anger, fear, and distress. The secret of the preservation of health, in fact, will be in the proper balance of all these elements, since it is the disturbance of this balance that causes the illnesses which the glorious and most exalted God permits."

Coitus (Paris)

Nature: It is the union of two for the purpose of introducing the sperm.
Optimum: That which lasts until the sperm has been completely emitted.
Usefulness: It preserves the species.
Dangers: It is harmful to those with cold and dry breathing.
Neutralization of the Dangers: With sperm-producing foods.

Southerly Wind (Ventus Meridionalis) [Paris]

Nature: Warm in the second degree, dry in the first.
Optimum: The kind that sweeps across favorable regions.
Usefulness: Good for the chest.
Dangers: Weakens the senses.
Neutralization of the Dangers: With baths.

LEEKS (Vienna)

Nature: Warm in the third degree, dry in the second.
Optimum: The kind called naptici, that is, from the mountains and with a sharp odor.
Usefulness: They stimulate urination, influence coitus and, mixed with honey, clear up catarrh of the chest.
Dangers: Bad for the brain and the senses.
Neutralization of the Dangers: With sesame oil and with the oil of sweet almonds.
Effects: They cause hot blood and an acute crisis of the bile. They are primarily indicated for cold temperaments, for old people, in Winter, and in the Northerly regions.

The Fruit of the Mandragora (Fructus Mandragora) (Vienna)

Nature: Cold in the third degree, dry in the second.
Optimum: The highly fragrant variety.
Usefulness: Smelling it helps alleviate headaches and insomnia; spreading it on the skin works against elephantiasis and black infections.
Dangers: It stupifies the senses.
Neutralization of the Dangers: With the fruits of ivy.
Effects: It is not comestible. It is good for warm temperaments, for the young, in Summer, and in the Southern regions.

The Tacuinum Sanitatis or Handbook of Health is a latin translation from Arab medical treatises. Extensive manuscript illuminations came later, in the 14th and 15th centuries and quite a number of copies were made and circulated throughout europe.

Early North American Journeys

Wisconsin Historical Society as part of their American Journey series have compiled ~80 assorted illustrations from 9 books issued between 1640 and 1764 into a single presentation - I found this through the digital book portal in the sidebar. Names/publication dates are in the URL for each image.


These are some random images snaffled from the Bibliopolis - History of the Printed Book in the Netherlands image database [hosted by the KB Library] (names/year of publication are in the image URLs above).

You might have better luck. This is obviously a large database of both images and information but I'm getting timed out and blank pages at present despite killing cookies. It's not very intuitive anyway, to my way of thinking. But as I say, what I did see before was the tip of a visual digital smorgasbord. This was the original search result page ("bei" was the search term I think) from which the above images derive (as well as the alligator image from the previous post).

Surinam Metamorphosis

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) was three years old when her engraver father died. On his deathbed legend states that he predicted that the family name would become famous through his daughter. She developed an interest in the natural world and in insects in particular and she collected specimens for study from a young age. Her mother married a Flemish artist who encouraged Maria with her artistic talents and she began to paint scenes showing the life-cycles of butterflies by preference, in an age when it was widely believed that insects formed naturally from dirt. They moved from Germany to Holland where Maria spent much of the remainder of her life.

Maria found favour with some of the city leaders of Amsterdam after publishing two books of her paintings. She had come there with her daughters from a religious colony after a couple of failed marriages. Through her eldest daughter's marriage to a merchant, she began to be attracted to the South American Dutch colony of Surinam. After eight years planning, she and her youngest daughter went on their own to Surinam, their passage paid for by the city of Amsterdam. She spent two years there continuing with her study and painting of insects.

She released the first volume of her most famous work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium in 1705 which became the third recording of the pupae-caterpillar-butterfly in print. Her scientific renderings although sometimes inaccurate, are still regarded as a great accomplishment and she attracted the notice and praise of Linneaus. There were a number of publications of this work, with a second volume released after her death. Maria had also painted, engraved and hand coloured a large number of botanical and insect depictions during her latter life teaching of embroidery and painting. So although there were supposedly 60 plates made originally from her time in Surinam, this number burgeoned with reprintings.

Maria died a pauper after having suffered a stroke a few years earlier and another legend has her receiving news of the Russian Tsar's agreement to purchase her papers and paintings on the day she died. In fact, all her works did end up in Russia so it is likely the agreement was reached earlier. They were later returned to Germany.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Loren Long

Illustrations © Loren Long

Centennial Exposition

Centennial exposition described and illustrated, being a concise and graphic description of this grand enterprise commemorative of the first centennary of American independence by JS Ingram 1876 is online as part of the University of Georgia Library digital collection - this is a djvu website which is a program similar to the adobe pdf reader but I believe the book will render in javascript (the program is worth downloading in my view - but I already had it).

There are about 75 images - buildings and other outdoor exhibits and a number of other 'industrial' machinery, plant boutiques, indoor displays but the above images are a good cross section. Click on the images for a slightly larger version. [It took me a while to find out that this event took place in Philadelphia - you would think they'd put that somewhere obvious] ps. sorry about the layout.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Bull of Arbuthnot

"[Arbuthnot] was a man of great comprehension, skilful in his profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature, and able to animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active imagination; a scholar with great brilliancy of wit; a wit, who, in the crowd of life, retained and discovered a noble ardour of religious zeal." Samuel Johnson.

John Arbuthnot (1667-1735) made significant, if often indirect, contributions to British literary and intellectual development. His background is somewhat hazy, not the least reason being his own disinterest in keeping and maintaining his papers which he allowed his children to play with and burn. So he may have earned a university degree while still in his native Scotland, but his penchant for mathematics came to the fore with his publishing the first work on probability in Britain - Of The Laws of Chance - 1692.

After moving to London and meeting the likes of Pepys, Newton, Swift and Pope, Arbuthnot applied for a degree and was uncannily made a physician on that same day by defending a number of medical treatises. He would publish papers on epidemiology and the effects of diet and good ventilation on disease. He was a member of the Royal College of Physicians, overseeing an improvement in drug dispensing quality, a founding member of the Royal Academy of Music (and UK manager of Handel's operas) and a member of the Royal Society. His antiquarian interests manifested in mulitiple publications on comparative weights and measures. He was also the Queen's physician for a time.

But it is perhaps within the backroom of literary society that the lasting effects of this gentle polymath were forged. Arbuthnot was a legendary wit and convener of the Scriblerus club, a short lived round table for the literati, who mocked pedantry and the abuses of learning. Swift and Pope both obtained direct help or inspiration for their own publications (as did others, by all accounts) from the Arbuthnot brains trust. Although Arbuthnot had a family background steeped in political enthusiasm, it was no doubt that the learned company he kept elevated his interest in politics.

So it was that Arbuthnot's wit and political awareness combined in some of his satirical publications. In 1712 he brought out a pamphlet that was essentially a call for support of the government's position on the Spanish war of succession. But it was a complete mockery of the powers involved, including the personification of Britain England in the figure of John Bull. The portly commoner, gently nationalistic with a homespun common sense and poor taste in fashion often accompanied by a bulldog, came to be a formidable character in the public conciousness and a particular favourite of the renowned caricaturists James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank.

Feathering Poetic License

R Abdy et ses Kakatoës
broadside, coloured lithograph; 1890

The Duke of Edinburgh's Welcome by the Natives;
lithograph; W.Wyatt; 1868.

The Crystal Bowl: Australian Nature Stories.
Illustrated by Dorothy Wall 1920.

Emu V.Woodthorpe; 1802.

Birds! at the National Library of Australia

Balancing Disparity

Poet Phillis Wheatley lived just 31 years. She had been sold into slavery as a child.

adj 1: lacking any definite plan or order or purpose;
governed by or depending on chance

Friday, October 28, 2005

Canadian Printer & Publisher Magazine

The University of Toronto Fisher Library have the first 20 years (1892-1911) of the Canadian Printer & Publisher Magazine available in an exemplary website.

Dance Instruction

All these images come from Pierre Rameau's 1728 The Dancing Master.

An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals (1490-1920) at the Library of Congress.

Creative Commons License