Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The World Around Us

Moon map

Telescope emplacement + scaffold

Insect wing microscopy

House-fly head  + eye microscopy

Human finger microscopy

Sailing galleons

Manta ray species

Fish species

fish + seahorse

Middle Eastern costumes + whirling dervish

Fungi species


Limestone cave


Kangaroo and related species

Known as 'Bertuch's Bilderbuch für Kinder', this rather enlightened 12-volume natural history / science / enthnographic encyclopedia for children was published in instalments between 1790 and 1830. In passing, I noted* that a complete edition was sold last year for over €20,000.

Three [ELEVEN], {as at June 2013} of the volumes are [now] available from the University of Heidelberg (after selecting a volume, click anything below 'Inhalt' and then 'Vorschau' for thumbnail pages). The majority of images above were selected from Volume Two, as I recall.

Inspired by the groundbreaking 17th century pictorial text for children, 'Orbis Sensualium Pictus' by Jan Comenius, 'Bertuch's Bilderbuch für Kinder' contains well over a thousand hand-coloured engraved plates, some apparently produced by William Blake.

  • The Wikipedia article on the publisher, Friederich Bertuch, has a few more plates from the series.
  • The last image above comes from the National Library of Australia. They have selectively digitised the local flora, fauna and indigenous people illustrations from Volume One. (click on 'selected plates and pages').
  • See also: Medusa (detail) posted in February and Greenwich Hospital from Flickr user mando maniac.
  • Update: Looks like the whole series is available at Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (the server seemed fairly slow when I tested it)


José Manuel Vilhena said...

So beautiful...

Thomas said...

Those fish are delightful.

Karla said...

Lucky kids who got that!

Frumingelo said...

love the butterflywings! A time ago i wrote something about the tiny colourfull tiles of wich butterflywing exists.

This is the link if you are intrested: http://frumingelo.blogspot.com/2008/09/vlindervleugels.html



Lady Meerkat said...

That main kangaroo has Princess Di eyes!

Det lille hjem said...

Does anyone know if it's possible to purchase a poster with manta ray(s) like the one above?

peacay said...

I'm not getting any results with TinEye, so I don't think the manta picture has been made into a poster. I guess that means that you have to go to the source website and find that picture and either write to the German university to see if they'll provide a high-res file or download the largest available version of the picture and take it to a poster shop and ask them how it will turn out.

Marianne said...

Thanks for the beautiful illustrations. Would these volumes have been available in England in the 1820s? I'm researching which books might have inspired Alfred Russell Wallace as a child (he went on to be a great naturalist and explorer against all the odds). He was born in 1823, and certainly enjoyed Aesops fables, etc, but I'm wondering if he might have had access to an encycopaedia such as this?

peacay said...

Marianne, that's a good question and I don't have an answer I'm afraid. This is a very important encyclopedia and I'd be surprised if it wasn't either translated or plagiarised or similar in the years following publication. But I think that would take some serious research that's beyond my pedestrian skills. Nothing turns up easily at WorldCat.org or in the biographies of the Bertuchs as far as my quick look found. Good luck with it!

Marianne said...

Thanks anyway for your reply. I wonder how I could go about researching this. It's quite easy for me to get to the British Library, so perhaps that should be the next port of call, though I'm not sure who to approach there.

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