Monday, August 07, 2006

The Wood Book







[click for much larger versions - worth viewing for the detail]

Martinus Houttuyn (1720-1798) was trained in medicine but established his own printing firm in his native Holland to publish natural history books.

In 1773 the first 6 plates of 'Houtkunde'* ['A representation of inland and foreign wood'] were released as an unbound book with hand coloured prints.

Houttuyn combined with the printer JC Sepp and ultimately 106 illustration plates were made and released in book form accompanied by their species and common names in english, dutch, german, french and latin.

In the beginning Houttuyn intended that his 'Houtkunde' should be favoured by keepers of 'wunderkammer', but the title page from a later edition envisioned a wider audience - Houtkunde’ represents inland and foreign wood, used to build houses and ships, as well as for cabinets, tools, paints and also for medicine. (Houttuyn had included an index in dutch with notes on the origin, use and properties of the specimens depicted)

*'Houtkunde' translates online as 'knowledge' but if any Dutch visitors can confirm it, I'm presuming it also means something like 'forest' or 'woods' - it turned up frequently searching.

"‘Houtkunde’ gives us an impression of the wood collections in cabinets of natural curiosities which, in many cases, have been lost. It is also an important source of information about the knowledge and use of wood in the 18th century. Furthermore, the book helps to decipher the different names often given to a specific type of wood."

7 comments:

pita said...

waouhh!! wonderful! the first wood book (with very big pictures!), thank you to have find it.
patricia

jornt said...

Houtkunde translates, literally, as Woodknowledge. So basically it means the knowledge of wood.

pk said...

Heh. You're welcome Patricia.

Thanks Jornt. Online translation of the dutch language is about the worst thing that the internet has to offer.

Director said...

I wish I'd known about this when we were doing our xylothek exhibit! Congratulations -- as always a most provoking stopover on the BibliOdyssey

zercath said...

I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say great blog. Thanks!

peacay said...

Thanks zercath. You chose a particularly special post in which to make your comment. I still well remember being totally gobsmacked when I found this amazing book.

peacay said...

Ha! zercath forgot to include the vyagarah link that he's now (unsuccessfully - thanks comment moderation for old posts) trying to post in other BibliOdyssey entries. I should probably have picked it as a generic spam comment.

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