Monday, September 23, 2013

The Practical Garden

German botanical magazine
hand-coloured engravings

Cyamus nelumbo (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Cyamus nelumbo
(Egyptian Bean Lily)

Aloe picta (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Aloe picta
(Spotted-leaved Aloe)

Justicia coccinea (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Justicia coccinea
(Cardinals Guard)

Pflaume mit gefüllter Blüthe (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Pflaume mit gefüllter Blüthe
(Plum blossom)

Die Arakatscha (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Die Arakatscha
(similar to potato, native to the mountains of Colombia and Ecuador)

Der rothe Klapper-Apfel (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Der rothe Klapper-Apfel
(variety of red apple)

Neue Erfindung mehrerer Geräthschaften zur Wartung... mehr' (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Neue Erfindung mehrerer Geräthschaften zur 
Wartung der Pflanzen in den botanischen Gärten
(New garden maintenance inventions..
Portable glass-house and wire lattice)

Pfirsche mit gefüllter Blüthe (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Pfirsche mit gefüllter Blüth
Peach & peach flowers

Protea ochroleuca (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Protea ochroleuca
(native to South Africa)

Cobbea scandens (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Cobbea scandens
'Cup and Saucer' vine or 'Cathedral Bells', native to Mexico

Erythrina crista galli (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Erythrina crista galli
Commonly known in English as the Cockspur Coral Tree, 
the Ceibo (in Spanish) is the national plant of Argentina.

Rochea falcata (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)

Rochea falcata
South African succulent^, commonly known as the Airplane or Propeller plant

Amarelle mit gefüllter Blüte (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Amarelle mit gefüllter Blüte
Fruit, flowers and leaves from the sour cherry tree

Der graue Junker Hanns. (Messire Jean-gris.) (hand-coloured botanical engraving courtesy kulturerbe niedersachsen)
Der graue Junker Hanns. (Messire Jean-gris.)
Variety of pear

Plan eines groſsen Kinder-Gartens
(plans for a large children's garden)
New garden maintenance inventions..
including swings, flower beds, gardener's 
house, bird-feeder, lawn for gatherings and 
ball games, cow shed, monuments &c

'Allgemeines teutsches Garten-Magazin oder gemeinnützige Beiträge für alle Theile des praktischen Gartenwesens' 1809, is online at Lower Saxony Heritage (Kulturerbe Niedersachsen) under the auspices of Gottingen State and University Library. The title roughly translates as: 'General German Garden Magazine or Useful Articles about all Disciplines of Practical Gardening'.

The magazine was issued regularly during the early part of the 19th century. It was one of the first periodicals to include coloured plates and advice on garden maintenance. It seems that these magazine issues were in fact compilations sourced from a variety of contemporary gardening and botanical-related accounts, pamphlets and (more obvious to me) botany books. At least a few of the illustrations are copied from, or modelled after, original sketches by the eminent British naturalist/illustrator, James Sowerby (eg.). So, this magazine compilation is more like the gardening Reader's Digest of its day, than a completely original publication. But perhaps that's a little unkind; it was ground breaking in its own way.

The written text dominates these 'general garden magazines'. Microfiche(?) or photocopy scans of the writing from the magazines can be seen here (compiled as yearly collections): this is within the Digital Garden Collection (newspapers, periodicals, company catalogues) of the German Horticultural Association, hosted by TU Berlin Universitätsbibliothek.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Locomotive Lithographs

Mid-1800s Locomotive Builders' Prints 
from The Boston Athenæum*

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Twenty Four Ton Passenger Engine, 
'Gen. Stark'
delineated by Chas F Thomas 
of Taunton Mass.

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
McKay & Aldus Iron Works, East Boston, Mass. 
Manufacture Locomotive Engines & Tenders, 
Marine Engines, Iron & Wooden Steam Ships, 
Sugar Mills, Machinery &c. &c.

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Wm. Mason & Co. Builders, Taunton, Mass.

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. 

Outside Passenger Engine, 

Manchester, NH

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Boston Locomotive Works 1854 Holmes Hinkley, 
Agent, No. 380 Harrison Avenue, Boston, Mass.

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Locomotive for Passengers with Outside Cylinders. 
Built by the Lowell Machine Shop, 1852

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Manchester Locomotive Works Manufacturers of 
Locomotives, Stationary Steam Engines and Tools

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Locomotive Engine for Passengers as built by 
the Lowell Machine Shop, Lowell Mass. 1852

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Portland Company's Passenger Engine, 1854. Portland, Maine

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Lawrence Machine Shop, 
Lawrence, Mass. 
Passenger Engine 
'Abbott Lawrence', 22 Tons

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Portland Company's, 
Passenger Locomotive, 
'Minnehaha', 1856
John Sparrow Superintendent

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Taunton Locomotive 
Manf.g Co. Taunton Mass. 
William A Crocker, Treas.
Willard W Fairbanks, Agent

locomotive builder's lithograhic print
Wm. Mason, Taunton, Mass. 'Highland Light'

"The locomotive industry emerged in mid-nineteenth-century America with the development and rapid expansion of the railroad network. As the number of locomotive manufacturers increased, the industry became intensely competitive, and builders vied with one another to capture the attention of railroad companies, officials, and agents. The first locomotive builders’ prints were created in the late 1830s and ‘40s in response to this industry competition. These lithographic portraits of locomotives were soon considered to be essential to the manufacturers’ promotion of their machines. Locomotive builders’ prints differed from ordinary advertising prints or landscape views with picturesque trains. Instead, they were a unique type of print, a hybrid designed both to attract potential customers and to provide accurate technical information about locomotive engines and cars. [..] 
With the introduction of chromolithography in the 1840s and ‘50s, locomotive manufacturers began commissioning color prints of their engines. Early American locomotives were often painted and colorfully decorated; chromolithographic locomotive builders’ prints offer a rare insight into the decorative designs, finishes, and materials favored by manufacturers. The use of color in the 1850s ushered in what has been called the golden age of the locomotive builders’ prints. Larger in scale than the prints of the 1830s and early 1840s, they were composed of bold, opaque colors with glittering bronze and metallic powders. As locomotive manufacturers competed for the customer’s eye, lithographic artists began portraying locomotives in landscapes often with reference to the factories in which they were built. [..]
These lavish prints were much prized by locomotive manufacturers. [..] The November 8, 1856 issue of the Railroad Advocate stated that these prints were the “appropriate adornments for the offices of every variety of business connected with railroads; they are consulted by master mechanics and locomotive buyers; they are the master-pieces in the parlors of many engineers of good taste. . . .” The time and money invested in producing locomotive builders’ prints indicates that they were not typical advertising ephemera. In fact, they were clearly designed as framing prints to be hung in railroad offices and depots, hotels, saloons, and parlors where they might seduce not only prospective buyers but the general traveling public as well."
[Excerpts from a web article by Catharina Slautterback, Curator of Prints & Photographs, Boston Athenæum]

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Comet Sketches

The Comet Book ('Kometenbuch'
is a 16th century album of
stylised watercolour sketches
of both comets and meteors
"The ancient Egyptians and Chaldeans [..] by a long Courſe of Obſervations, were able to predict the Apparitions of Comets. But ſince they are alſo ſaid, by Help of the ſame Arts, to have progoſticated Earthquakes and Tempeſts, 'tis paſt all Doubt, that their Knowledge in theſe Matters, was the Reſult rather of meer Aſtrological Calculation, than of any Aſtronomical Theories of the Cœleſtial Motions.

And the Greeks, who were Conquerors of both thoſe People, ſcarce found any other ſort of Learning amongſt them, than this. So that 'tis the Greeks themſelves as the Inventors (and eſpecially to the Great Hipparhchus) that we owe this Aſtronomy, which is now improv'd to Such a Heighth.

But yet, amongſt theſe, the Opinion of Ariſtotle (who wou'd have Comets to be nothing elſe, but ſublunary Vapours, or Airy Meteors) prevail'd So far, that this moſt difficult part of the Aſtronomical ſcience lay altogether neglected; for no Body thought it worth while to take Notice of, or write about, the Wandring uncertain Motions of what they eſteemed Vapours floating in the Æther; whence it came to paſs, that nothing certain, concerning the Motions of the Comets, can be found tranſmitted from them to us.

But Seneca the Philoſopher, having conſider'd the Phenomena of Two remarkable Comets of his Time, made no ſcruple to place them amongſt the Cœleſtial Bodies; believing them to be ſtars of equal Duration with the World, tho' he owns their Motions to be govern'd by Laws not as then known or found out. And at laſt (which was no untrue or vain Prediction) he foretells, that there ſhould be Ages ſometime hereafter, to whom Time and Diligence ſhou'd unfold all theſe Myſteries, and who ſhou'd wonder that the Ancients cou'd be ignorant of them, after ſome lucky Interpreter of Nature had ſhewn, in what Parts of the Heavens the Comets wander'd, what, and how great they were. Yet almoſt all the Aſtronomers differ'd from this Opinion of Seneca; neither did Seneca himſelf think fit to ſet down thoſe Phænomena of Motion, by which he was enabled to maintain his Opinion; Nor the Times of thoſe Appearances, which might be of uſe to Poſterity, in order to the Determining theſe Things.

And indeed, upon the Turning over very many Hiſtories of Comets, I find nothing at all that can be of ſervice in this Affair, before, A.D. 1337. at which time Nicephorus Gregorus, a Conſtantinopolitan Hiſtorian and Aſtronomer did pretty accurately deſcribe the Path of a Comet amongſt the Fix'd Stars, but was too laxe as to the Account of the Time; ſo that this moſt doubtful and uncertain Comet, only deſerves to be inſerted in our Catalogue, for the ſake of its appearing near 400 years ago."

'A Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets' IN: 'Miscellanea Curiosa: Containing a Collection of Some of the Principal Phænomena in Nature, Accounted for by the Greatest Philosophers of this Age..' Edited by Edmund Halley, 1708. [Harvard || GBooks || Amazon |||| long ſ]

Domina capillorum a
Domina capillorum (Sol)

Veru a
Veru, ein Komet aus dem Jahre 69 n. Chr.

Unnamed a
?Pertica orientalis und occidentalis

Scutella a

Rosa a

miles a

Geben ou Tenacusum a
Gebea ou Tenaculum (Luna) aus der Zeit Kaiser Neros

Etoiles courants a
Etoiles courants

Azome austrement Dominis Aschone a
Aczime aultrement Dominis Aschone (Merkur)

Aurora oder Matuta (Feuer)

Argentium a
Argentum im Zeichen des Jupiters

'Kometenbuch' was produced in Flanders or NE France in 1587. Two editions are known to exist; the other copy is owned by the Warburg Institute in London, and contains near-identical sketches, but has an extra chapter of writing. The names of the author and illustrator are unknown. The text would appear to reflect the rather outlandish, or at least exaggerated, qualities we see in the painted miniatures. In other words, the text purports to compile a history of comet science from ancient times up to the late Medieval period, but it does so in such a way that the emphasis is on 'popularising' the content. Early Modern pop-science, if you will. So what began as factual depictions of celestial phenomena, morphed into spectacular genre paintings.

The writing isn't so distorted that it masks the true origins, however. Our author incorrectly (or pretentiously) names Ptolemy as a source - but the papers cited in 'Kometenbuch' contain no reference to comets at all. Instead, it has been determined that the true source for the manuscript contents lies with an anonymous Spanish book, 'Liber de Significatione Cometarum', published in 1238. The 13th century book contained astrological and astronomical information and observations from ancient history and was translated into many languages; one edition in simplified French from the 15th century likely provided the 'Kometenbuch' author's foundation material.

The painting scenes tend to follow from the descriptions in the text; for instance, comet Aurora was said to trigger wars, fire, strong winds and the like, which is why the corresponding image depicts burning houses, fleeing people etc. The Miles comet is described as being "as big as a horse" and the harbinger of upheaval to laws, social norms and hard times for royalty: cryptically sketched as a man defecating beneath a sky filled by a giant-tailed comet (the tails were said to carry the 'effects' from the heavens), while a perplexed owl looks on from a tree.

Throughout history, the appearance of these beautiful and colourful comets has been regarded as significant events. In general, people held superstitious beliefs about comets and were convinced that they were bad omens and associated with the forces of dark magic or a sign of punishment to come from displeased Gods. Comets 'announced' that war, famine, pestilence and other consequences of sinful behaviour were on their way. This kind of religious punishment explanation of comets persisted up until the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe, when the speculative literature (and illustrations!) gave way, over time, to a more scientific appreciation of the phenomena.

  • 'Kometenbuch' 1587, is available online from Universitätsbibliothek Kassel in Germany.
  • The majority of writing above is paraphrased from a translated manuscript commentary/bibligraphy book^: 'Kasseler Handschriftenschätze' c. 1985 by Hartmut Broszinski.
  • I am, for the manyeth time, deeply grateful for the translational assistance provided by typographer-extraordinaire, Nina Stössinger (@ninastoessinger). THANKS NINA!! Nina is studying again now, so if there's anybody out there who is very fluent in BOTH English AND German, and who wouldn't mind giving me some occasional translational assistance, please get in contact: gmail/peacay or @BibliOdyssey.
  • Thanks also to Harvard Library's John Overholt.
  • Previously: The Comet Book (includes more background links) and, in general: astronomy & astrology.
  • Addit: never let it be said that I d/won't allow criticism to appear here (however factually incorrect it may be - they regard the details of the write-up here - with which they disagree - the fault of 'the blogger'. Perhaps they ought to read all these bullet points. My opinion doesn't really surface. A lot of work and a few people were responsible for producing this commentary which, as noted, is essentially a summarised translation.)
  • This post first appeared on the BibliOdyssey website.

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