Topsell’s Fantastic Four-Footed Beasts

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Edward Topsell, a Church of England clergyman, was born in Kent in 1572 and managed the parish of St Botolph in Aldersgate, London from 1604 until his death in 1625 (Lewis, 2004).  Although he wrote several books, his most celebrated work is, ‘The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents’ (1607), a wonderful bestiary that describes all manner of creatures from Elephants to Bees to the Bear Ape Arctopithecus (or the three toed sloth as we know it today (University of Houston Library, 2013)).  Each entry describes the creature in detail, giving commentary from ancient, medieval and contemporary sources.  In particular, Topsell relied heavily on sixteenth century encyclopedia, ‘Historia Animalium’ by Conrad Gesner, reusing his work to the point where he could almost be accused of plagiarism (Lewis, 2004).  This makes Topsell’s following claim a little dubious:

I cannot say that I have said all that can be written of these living creatures, yet I dare say I have wrote more than ever was before me written in any Language

However, even though he was not a naturalist by any means and borrowed much of this work from others, ‘A History of Four-footed Beats and Serpents’ remains a fascinating text. One of my favourite things about the beastiary is that includes not only the familiar and common animals but also the fantastical and frightening!  Manticore, Satyr and Unicorn are all considered alongside cat and dog and horse and the descriptions provided are wonderfully detailed and perfectly illustrated.

Below are some of my favourite mythical monsters from the book:

manticore

Of the Mantichora

A terrifying monster residing in India that has earned the fearsome title of ‘man eater’, the Manticore is described by Topsell as a deadly combination of man, lion and scorpion:

a treble row of teeth beneath and above, whose greatness, roughness, and feet are like a lyons, his face and ears unto a mans, his eyes grey, and colour red, his tail like the tail of a Scorpion, of the earth, armed with a sting, casting forth sharp pointed quils; his voice like the voice of a small Trumpet or Pipe, being in course as swift as a Hart; his wildness such as can never be tamed, and his appetite is especially to the flesh of man.

The manticore uses its tail to attack hunters and prey and is able to grow back any quills lost in the fight.

 

 lamia

Of the Lamia

Topsell initially describes what he believes to be the fabled accounts of the Lamia, which show her as a ‘phary’ (fairy) or shape-changer who wishes to steal away children and tempt beautiful men.  As such creatures do not exist in the Bible, these tales originated, according to Topsell, from poets who use the term Lamia as an allegory for a harlot.

The true Lamia, instead hails from Libya and is known in Hebrew as the creature ‘Lilith’.  It is described as:

having a womans face, and very beautiful, also very large and comely shapes of their breasts, such as cannot be counterfeited by the art of any Painter, having a very excellent colour in their fore-parts without wings, and no other voice but hissing like dragons.

The Lamia is said to enchant men with its body before overthrowing and devouring them.

 

Unicorn

Of the Unicorn 

Although Topsell consults many ancient sources, he finds their accounts of the descriptions of Unicorns so divergent that he can only assume there are many varying kinds of the creature, much as there are types of dog or mice.  However, he confirms that they can be found in both India and Ethiopia, that they have a single horn in the middle of the forehead, are roughly the size of a horse, and tend toward a solitary life.

Of course the most fascinating part of a Unicorn is its horn and Topsell recounts an interesting story from the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus:

the Indians of that horn make pots, affirming that whosoever drinketh in one of those pots, shall never take disease that day, and if they be wounded, shall feel no pain, or safely pass through the fire without burning, nor yet be poisoned in their drinks, and therefore such cups are only in the possession of their Kings.

Although Apollonius discounted some of the effects of the Unicorn horn, he seemed to accept that it may have some medicinal properties.

 

dragon

Of the Dragon

Like Unicorns, dragons are also said to be bred in India and Africa and are diverse in size and colour.  The dragon illustrated above is the Winged Dragon whose wings are described as being of “a skinny substance, and very voluble, and spreading themselves wide, according to the quantity and largenesse of the Dragons body.”

More generally, dragons are beautiful to behold, despite their terrifying treble rows of teeth.  They have bright and clear seeing eyes, “dewlaps growing under their chin and hanging down like a beard[…] and their bodies are set all over with very sharp scales, and over their eyes stand certain flexible eye-lids.”

They also have very keen senses of seeing and hearing, making them the perfect watchful keepers of treasure and unmarried maidens.

According to Topsell (affirmed by Aristotle), dragons are specifically offended by eating apples and lettice and will eat the latter to vomit up any meat they find does not settle well in their stomachs!

To kill a dragon, Topsell recounts that Indians will,

take a garment of Scarlet, and picture upon it a charm in golden letters, this they lay upon the mouth of the Dragon’s den, for with the red colour and the gold, the eyes of the Dragon are overcome, and he falleth asleep, the Indians in the mean season watching and muttering secretly words of Incantation; when they perceive he is fast asleep, suddenly they strike off his neck with an Ax

Our edition of ‘The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents’ is a later revised version to which is attached the ‘Theatre of Insects’ by T. Muffet.  Lewis (2004) suggests that Topsell had originally intended to produce his own third and four volumes on birds and fishes but these unfortunately were never completed.

Sources:
Topsell, E. (1658) The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents. London: Printed by E. Cotes, for G. Sawbridge at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill, T. Williams at the Bible in Little-Britain, and T. Johnson, at the Key in Paul’s Church-yard [COLE–004Q – available upon request]
Lewis, G. (2004) ‘Topsell, Edward (bap. 1572, d. 1625)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press
University of Houston Library (2013) Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents Woodcuts.  Available from: http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/p15195coll18

Archive Animals – Cats

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Our Special Collections Library and Archive is full of interesting creatures, big and small.  They can be found everywhere from our Children’s Collection story books to the detailed scientific tomes of our Cole Library.  So far we’ve explored the Ducks, Horses and Bees but today is the turn of the graceful Cat. Here are just a few of my favourite titles on Cats from our collections:

 

Cats in Literature

Orlando the Marmalade Cat – Kathleen Hale
[Children’s Collection 823.9-HAL]

This beautiful series of Children’s books created by Kathleen Hale feature the adventures of Orlando the

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

ginger cat, his wife Grace and their three kittens, Pansy, Blanche and Tinkle.

In ‘Orlando’s Invisible Pyjamas’ poor Orlando gets himself covered in paraffin oil, which makes him bald from waist to tail.  Grace manages to coax Orlando from hiding with the promise of knitting him some fur pyjama trousers.  While Grace knits, Orlando regales the kittens with stories from their family photo album.

According to MacCarthy (2000), Hale wrote to “reinvent a childhood, to recreate the domestic structure she had so badly lacked.”  And the bright story books with their tales of a tightly knit family of cats were a perfect distraction for children during WWII.  Indeed the bright colours of the ‘Orlando’ books are one of their best features; inspired by the series ‘Babar’ (Jean de Brunhoff), Hale had “envisaged a large format book in seven colours,” (MacCarthy, 2000) and although after some convincing from her publisher, only four were used, the effect is just as attractive.  After the publication of her first two Orlando books, Hale even learned the art of lithography herself, (Roberts, 2014) her efforts with the medium setting new standards for Children’s illustrated books.

As well as copies of a number of Hale’s books, our collection also includes archival material relating to their publication, such as uncorrected proofs of the text, holographs, typescripts and carbon typescripts.

For more information on Orlando see our 2007 featured item, Kathleen Hale, Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) buys a farm, 1972 

Sources:
Roberts, P. (2014) Orlando the Marmalade Cat
MacCarthy, F. (2000) Obituary: Kathleen Hale

 

Cats in Music and Art

Tabby Polka by Procida Bucalossi / Louis Wain
[Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers – Box 11]

This charming image comes from our Spellman Collection of Victorian Music covers, which consists of around 2,500 Victorian sheet music covers, illustrating virtually every aspect of Victorian life, culture

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

and preoccupations.

This particular piece, dating to c.1865 was composed by Procida Bucalossi (1832-1918), a theatre conductor and composer at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London who was known for his dance arrangements for the Savoy Operas. (Stone, 2001).

The artist behind the illustration is Louis Wain (1860-1939), a British artist renowned for his wonderful pictures of cats.  Later in life, Wain began to show signs of mental illness but continued to draw and paint.  His artwork however, took on an unusual quality and he “produced the first of his fascinating series of “kaleidoscope” cats,” which included intricate geometric patterns and “images in which the figure of the cat is exploded in a burst of geometric fragments.” (Boxer, 2016)

Sources:
Stone, D. (2001) THE D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
Boxer, J. (2016) Louis Wain –  Henry Boxer Gallery 

 

Cats in Science

Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson, 1822
[Reserve Middle Folio 523 JAM]

Felis - Celestial Atlas, 1822

Felis – Celestial Atlas, 1822

One of the many constellations described in “A Celestial Atlas” by Alexander Jamieson in 1822, Felis was composed by French astronomer Jerome de Lalande in 1799 from stars between Hydra and Argos Navis.  Sadly Felis did not make the list of 88 modern constellations when the IAU (International Astronomical Union) created an official set of constellation boundaries in 1930.

Sources:
International Astronomical Union, (2016) The Constellations
Ridpath, I. (2016) Felis the Cat

 

The Cat by St. George Mivart, 1881
[Cole Library 185]

Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

‘The Cat’ by British biologist St George Mivart is a fascinating, in-depth study of our feline friends.  The book provides highly detailed anatomical descriptions and illustrations, such as this of the cat’s paw:

Of these [pads of the feet] there are seven in the fore paw, and five in the hind paw.  Each pad consists of a mass of fibrous tissue and fat and a large trilobed one is placed beneath the ends of those bones on which the animal rests in walking.

Many of the careful illustrations, particularly those of the cat’s muscles, have been coloured over and annotated, showing that the book was very much in use by its owner.

Annotated Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Annotated Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

As well as anatomy, ‘The Cat’ also delves into the development and psychology of the cats, and one of my favourite features of the study are the small footnotes which include interesting anecdotes about the nature of the cat, such as this one from p369:

Mr Douglas A. Spalding found kittens to be imbued with an instinctive horror of dogs before they were able to see it.  He tells us: – “One day last month, after fondling my dog, I put my hand into a basket containing four blind kittens, three days old.  The smell my hand had carried with it set them puffing and spitting in the most comical fashion.” (Nature, October 7, 1875. P507)

gif of cat anatomy from Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

All items are available upon request, find out more about using our Library and Archives here.

Cataloguing Cole: Fishes, Photographs and the Forces

Written by Sharon Maxwell, Archivist (Cataloguing & Projects)

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

I have recently been cataloguing the personal papers of Professor Francis J Cole, (1872-1959), the first Professor of Zoology at the University of Reading. The fascinating papers in the Cole collection include research for his academic writings and publications, bibliographies and indexes relating to his library and his bibliographic studies and photographic material including thousands of glass negatives and lantern slides used by Cole in his teaching.  Cataloguing this material has given me an insight into Cole’s research methods and his interests.

Cole was born in London, England on 3 February 1872. On leaving school Cole’s aim was to go to Oxford and read zoology. He learnt zoology at the Royal College of Science, and he also attended lectures at the Royal Institution and studied at Christ Church, Oxford and the University of Edinburgh.  In 1894 he was appointed lecturer in zoology at Liverpool University College, later the University of Liverpool.  He stayed there for twelve years and combined work during term time at Liverpool with research during vacation at Jesus College, Oxford.  In this way he obtained a B.Sc.

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)degree at Oxford by research in 1905.

degree at Oxford by research in 1905. In 1906 Cole took up an appointment as lecturer in zoology at University College, Reading, and in the following year became the first occupant of the chair of zoology, which he held until his retirement in 1939.  In these thirty-two years he built up a flourishing department, founded a Museum of Comparative Anatomy which is now called by his name, and collected a magnificent library of early works on medicine and comparative anatomy.

 

He was awarded the Rolleston Prize at Oxford in 1902 for his researches on the cranial nerves of fishes, Chimaera.  Later he published a series of papers on the myxinoid fishes and received the Neill Gold Medal and Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1908.  His D. Sc., Oxford, followed in 1910. During World War I he was commissioned in the 4th Territorial Battalion

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

of the Essex Regiment and was stationed on the east coast in charge of a coastal gun emplacement.

 

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Returning to Reading after the war Cole turned more and more to the history of biology. His collection includes research for many of his major publications on this subject, including the zoological researches of Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), and his history of comparative anatomy.

The material that has survived in Cole’s archive gives you an insight into his style of research, he liked to produce detailed indexes to sources that he used, which refer you to material within his own library and to sources he found in other libraries and museums, so that you can closely follow his research path.  He also took great care with the illustrations produced to accompany his published writings, drawing many of the original images himself and annotating proofs until they were perfect for publication.

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

 

Cole clearly liked to enliven his lectures and talks, and his collection includes thousands of glass

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

negatives and lantern slides.  Ceri, our Reading Room Assistant is currently cataloguing these images and each negative will soon be digitised so that an image of the negative will appear alongside its catalogue description. Our volunteers Ron and Jan are carefully re-packaging these items into acid-free covers and boxes to preserve them for the future.

Professor Cole’s papers are available for research in the reading room, reference MS 5315 and the glass negatives will be available to view on our online catalogue in the near future.

 

Sources and further reading:

Much of the biographical information above was taken from an article written by N.B. Eales in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 1959, Vol. XIV, No. 1

See also the Cole Library and the Cole Museum for further insight into Professor Cole’s collections

Memoir on the Dodo

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

One of the interesting finds from our cataloguing and reclassification of the Cole Library Collection is ‘Memoir on the Dodo’ by Sir Richard Owen, an eminent English biologist and palaeontologist.

The initial discovery of Dodo remains in the mid nineteenth century led to some controversy in the scientific community.  Owen, who was somewhat notorious for his ruthless behaviour, is said to have intercepted material intended for another researcher, Alfred Newton.  Owen then argued that, “possession of the best material was a prerequisite for publication priority, which provided him with a complete monopoly,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).  With the success of his application as a Professor in danger of being side-tracked by Owen, Newton was unable to complain and was forced not only to, “relinquish access to the best Dodo bones promised to him, but he also had to withdraw the Dodo manuscript that had already been submitted,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).

Despite the circumstances surrounding its author, Owen’s work remains a significant contribution to the Zoological sciences.

Author dedication to the Bishop of Mauritius

Author dedication to the Bishop of Mauritius

The book consists of a historical introduction by naturalist William John Broderip; an explanation from Owen on how he came to be in possession of the collection of bones discovered on Mauritius by George Clark in 1865, and finally a description of these bones alongside several illustrative lithographic plates.  According to Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell (2009), the book had a limited run of only 100 copies with 20 intended for presentation to Owen’s supporters.  Our volume is dedicated by the author to the Bishop of Mauritius; the friendship between the two having played a key role in Owen’s receipt of the Dodo remains.

Broderip’s introductory history focuses on both written and pictorial evidence for the existence of the Dodo.  He examines first-hand accounts from travellers to Mauritius from as early as 1598, quoting their descriptions of the bird.  The following is from  Jacob van Neck and Wybrand van Warwijk’s

Drawing of a Dodo by Jacob van Neck and Wybrand van Warwijk

voyage in 1598:

As large as our swans, with large heads, and a kind of hood thereon; no wings, but, in place of them, three or four black little pens (penekens), and their tails consisting of four of five curled plumelets (Pluymkens) of a greyish colour.

 

Broderip also makes mention of the Dodo remains held in Oxford and the remains of a leg that had been held by the British Museum.  Following Broderip’s death, Owen took up the narrative, describing other museum artefacts as well as art works featuring the Dodo.  All three Dodos depicted in this beautifully coloured plate (below), taken from the front of the book, are from paintings by Roelandt Savery, a Flemish-born Dutch Painter.  Owen combined the figures to create an ‘Ideal scene in the island of Mauritius before its discovery in 1598.’

Composite picture of Roelandt Savery's Dodos

Composite picture of Roelandt Savery’s Dodos

However, Owen’s belief that Savery’s paintings were drawn from a living bird, caused him to make a serious mistake in his reconstruction of the creature.  Owen recreated the bird’s image by fitting the skeleton into an outline traced around Savery’s Dodo image but, “this produced an unnatural, squat and overly obese Dodo,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).  While Owen rectified his error in a later publication, the original image stuck and remains a common misconception.

 

Outline of a Dodo skeleton using a tracing from Roelandt Savery's Dodo paintings

Outline of a Dodo skeleton using a tracing from Roelandt Savery’s Dodo paintings

 

Sources:

 Owen, R. (1866) Memoir of the Dodo. London: Taylor and Francis [COLE 196F/103 – available on request]

  • A scan of ‘Memoir of the Dodo’ is available here.
  • P. Hume, A.S. Cheke & A. McOran-Campbell (2009) How Owen ‘stole’ the Dodo: academic rivalry and disputed rights to a newly-discovered subfossil deposit in nineteenth century Mauritius, Historical Biology, 21:1-2, 33-49

Archive Animals – Horses

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Unsurprisingly, the Special Collections and Museum of English Rural Life Libraries have a number of items relating horses; from journals to artwork, rare books and DVDs. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Horses in Fiction:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell, illustrated by Cecil Aldin (1912) [Children’s Collection 823.8 SEW]

The Special Collections library holds a number of editions of Anna Sewell’s horse autobiography, ‘Black Beauty’. Originally published in 1877, it tells the story of the titular horse, from his early days growing up on a farm with his mother, to the hardships he suffered pulling cabs in London. The story advocates fairer and kinder treatment of horses and has been described as “the most influential anticruelty novel of all time.” (Unti, 1998)

This edition was published in 1912 and contains a number of beautiful illustrations by British artist and illustrator Cecil Aldin.

Unti, Bernard (1998). “Sewll, Anna”. In Bekoff, Marc. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Greenwood Press. p. 313.

 

Horse History and Care:

Modern Practical Farriery, A Complete System of the Veterinary Art – W.J. Miles c.1870 [MERL Reserve FOLIO 4340 MIL]

This wonderful book provides a holistic guide to horses; including their history, anatomy and medical care.

Group of Ponies - Modern Practical Farriery

Group of Ponies – Modern Practical Farriery

In an attempt to uncover their place of origin, Miles explores the history of the horse from Biblical times to the reign of Alfred the Great. He notes that psalmist David, “speaks with proud distain of horses as used in war,” and that in the era of Solomon a horse would set you back 150 shekels or £17 10s (roughly £800 in today’s money) an immense sum for the time. Having traced the horses ancestry to Africa and Eastern and Northern Asia, Miles goes on to discuss the natural history of the animal, looking at horses from all around the world, including wild horses, those of Persia, India and Arabia.

The books gives detailed advice on how to train, ride, race, buy and look after the health and wellbeing of a horse. Unsurprisingly, considering the title of the book, a large section is devoted to ‘shoeing’. It notes the interesting idea that Roman Emperor Nero had his horses shod with silver while his wife Poppea shod her mules with gold! There are also a number of careful diagrams, showing the tools of the farriery trade and the different types of shoe: such as the ‘Pointed Shoe’ supposed to bring comfort to all horses and horsemen (though Miles doesn’t seem convinced) and the ‘Bar Shoe’ useful for horses with poorly feet.

Horse feet and shoes - Modern Practical Farriery

Horse feet and shoes – Modern Practical Farriery

 

Horses in Science:

The Anatomy of an Horse by Andrew Snape, 1683 [Cole 092F/15]

Horse Anatomy - 'The Anatomy of an Horse'

Horse Anatomy – ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’

This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated book was written by Andrew Snape (1644-1708) who was one of the farriers to King Charles II. One of the most comprehensive books of its type, (U.S. National Library of Health) it contains five chapters describing the anatomy of different parts of the horse including; the lowest belly or paunch, the middle venter or chest, the uppermost venter or head, the muscles of the body and the bones.

 

Snape begins by defining anatomy as ‘an opening or cutting up of the body of any animal or living creature whatsoever, whether frequenting the land or water, whereby the knowledge of the frame of its body, and the use of its parts may be attained unto.’ He then goes on to describe each of the parts from the outside in. His description of the brain is particularly interesting; he describes it as being split into two parts; the brain (at the front and consisting of the cortex) and the after-brain (at the back and divided into four parts one of which is called ‘Worm-like processes’ as it looks like the worms found in rotten timber).

Anatomy of the horse's brain - 'The Anatomy of an Horse'

Anatomy of the horse’s brain – ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’

The action of the brain is to elaborate the Animal Spirits, which from it are transmitted to the Medulla oblongata, and from thence into the Nerves, for the sensation and motion of the whole body.

The brain he declares to be “one of the most noble parts of the whole body ranked for its dignity even with the Heart itself.” And points out how “absurd and ridiculous a thing it [is]then for any man that hath any brain himself, to imagine a Horse to have none? Yet such men I have my self met withal.”

Although the illustrations included in ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’ are spectacular, they are not entirely original as they appeared first in Carlo Ruini’s Anatomia (1598) (Peter Harrington) and a number can also be found in our copy of ‘la parfait cavalier ov la vraye connoissance dv cheval ses maladies et remedes’ by J. Jourdin, C. Ruini and L. Chamhoudry which was published 28 years earlier in France in 1655 [Cole 092F/20]

 

Horses on DVD!

The Shire Horse – Fifth Avenue [MERL Library]

The Shire Horse DVD

The Shire Horse DVD

 

 

A comprehensive look at the history of the Shire horse in Britain, from the animal’s introduction by William the Conqueror in 1066, to their role in the First World War and near extinction with the rise of the combustion engine in 1960s.   A thoughtful and informative documentary with particular insights from Mr Roy Bird MBE and The Shire Horse Society.

The Bee Collection

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Bee from 'Adventures in Hiveland'

Bee from ‘Adventures in Hiveland’

Our collection of printed materials on bees and apiculture brings together the Cotton Collection and the

books from the H. Malcolm Fraser Collection, supplemented by books and periodicals from the University Library’s general collections. The collection examines bees and bee-keeping from a variety of angles, providing a fascinating wealth of knowledge.  Below is gathered a small selection showing the fantastic diversity of material:

 

 

The London Apiarian Guide for Bee Keepers

The London Apiarian Guide for Bee Keepers

Bee keeping

The London Apiarian Guide for Bee-Keepers (1823) – by John Milton [Bee Collection Fraser 148]

This short guide for bee keepers provides helpful tips on everything a budding bee-keep needs to know; from how to use the newest glass hive, how to purchase bees (the best time of year is February if you’re interested!), the type of flowers bees like best (Rosemary and Lemon Thyme) and of course, how to obtain your honey!

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Anatomy

The Honey Bee: Its Natural History, Anatomy, and physiology. (1890) by T. W. Cowan– [Bee Collection ADDS 05D]

Written by the then chairman of the British Bee Keeper’s Association, ‘The Honey Bee’ is a detailed guide

The Honey Bee

The Honey Bee

to the science of the bee.  The work features several small but detailed diagrams alongside interesting facts and anatomical descriptions.

Interestingly, I learned that bees have different types of sting; the queen generally uses hers only against a rival and is able to extract her sting much more easily than a worker bee by using a spiral motion much like drawing a corkscrew out of a cork.  Worker bees are more likely to lose the lower part of their abdomen when withdrawing their sting while drones are not provided with a sting at all.

Cowan also describes how one apiarist, Stahala, had ascribed meanings to the various sounds bees make; a loud ‘Huummm’ for when the bees have a queen and their food stores are good but a ‘Dzi-Dzi’ when food stores are low or a loud ‘Dziiii’ when they’re too cold!

 

Bee History

The Lore of the Honey Bee

The Lore of the Honey Bee

Bee Lore (1916) by Tickner Edwardes– [Bee Collection ADDS 006]

Dedicated to the very same T.W. Cowan (above) Edwardes’ book of lore is a full history of bees and bee keeping.  It explores bees from the Greek myth of the nymph ‘Melissa’ (meaning ‘honey bee’) who fed the baby Zeus with milk and honey; praises the fourth book of Virgil’s ‘Georgics’ where the author’s ‘love for his bees shines through,’ and comments on a small book published in 1656 ‘The Country Housewife’s Garden’ which focuses on rule of thumb methods of beekeeping for fellow cottagers.

Alongside this history, Edwardes goes on to describe the features of the hive and weaves the story of the life of a bee in a romanticised light, for example, comparing the architectural supremacy of the honeycomb to the dome of St Paul’s and the great pyramids.

 

 Bees and Honey

Honey Cookbook (1955) – [Bee Collection Fraser 045]

Our copy of the ‘Honey Cookbook’ by Juliette Elkon was sent to Mr Fraser by the American Bee Journal

The Honey Cookbook

The Honey Cookbook

in 1957.  In it Elkon provides a lovely introduction to honey, which features some key bee basics.  For example, did you know that flower nectar has individual flavours and, “drones and workers who can’t produce their quota of honey are thrown out to die of exposure.” It’s not easy being a Bee!

Bees have also been busy making honey for a very long time.  According to Elkon, the oldest jar of honey was found “in the tomb of Queen Tyi’s parents in Egypt, where it had been placed over 3000 years ago.”

Elkon’s cookbook is full of delicious sounding recipes ranging from honey bran bread, to honey glazed hams and sugarless chocolate honey cakes.  As Elkon points out, honey is much healthier than sugar too…so you won’t feel too guilty for indulging in some of those treats!

 

 

Bees in Fiction

Slaughter of the Drones - from 'Adventures in Hiveland'

The Slaughter of the Drones – from ‘Adventures in Hiveland’

Adventures in Hiveland (1903) by Frank Stevens [Bee Collection Fraser 048]

‘Adventures in Hiveland’ by Frank Stevens is an interesting little story following the adventures of Jackie and Vi, two young children who meet the enigmatic elf-man ‘Nameless’ who shrinks them in size until they are small enough to explore inside a Beehive and learn about the lives of the bees who live there.

Although the story has quite a sad ending and sees more untimely deaths than a ‘Game of Thrones’ it gives a fascinating insight to the life of a bee, from Queen to Drone and is full of lovely sketches of the insects!

 

 

These volumes from our Bee Collection are available upon request.

Explore your Archive: Ducks

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Jemima Puddle Duck - Children's Collection 823.9-POT

Jemima Puddle Duck – Children’s Collection 823.9-POT

Today the theme of Explore Your Archives is  Archive Animals so we’re going to have a look at some of our wonderful archive Ducks!

 

Let’s start with perhaps our most famous duck, Jemima Puddle-Duck! UMASCS holds a 1908 edition of the tale, beautifully illustrating the adventures of Jemima who gets into trouble with a fox when leaving the safety of the farm to hatch her eggs. Jemima was based on a real duck that lived at Hill Top farm, the home of author Beatrix Potter.

 

According to the charmingly illustrated ‘Ducks: Art, Legend and History’ by Anna Giorgettii, [Merl Library 4534 GIO] ducks belong to the Anatidae Family, a word derived from the Latin ‘anas’ meaning ‘to swim.’ The book goes on to give all kinds of interesting facts and stories about ducks, including the idea that in ancient China a prospective lover would send a live duck or goose to the woman he desired.

John Lewis Printing Collection, Group XII 1

John Lewis Printing Collection, Group XII 1

 

Our modern term of endearment ‘duck’ was even used by the Romans in the form of ‘aneticula’ or ‘duckling’ (p82). It’s unsurprising then that this sweet Valentine’s Day greeting from our John Lewis Printing Collection (Group XII 1), dating to 1858, features a little duck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beautifully designed ‘A Book of Ducks’ by Phyllis Barclay Smith, we learn that it was King Charles II in 1661 who first formed a collection of wild birds in St James’ Park, so setting a precedent for the creation of collections in parks, lakesides and ponds across the country.

Printing Collection 082 Kin/58

Printing Collection 082 Kin/58

 

Engravings by T. Bewick, MERL LIBRARY RES--1840-HIS

Engravings by T. Bewick, MERL LIBRARY RES–1840-HIS

The great range of birds within the ‘Anas’ genus is explored in ‘A History of British Birds’ vol. II (1805) alongside beautifully detailed wood engravings by T. Bewick. For example, the rather cute ‘Scaup Duck’ (bottom centre in the picture to the right) is described as having a broad, flat bill , a black head and neck glossed with green and fan shaped brown tail feathers.

 

Finally we have ‘Ploof – the wild duck’, number 3 of the Père Castor wild animal books series, written principally by Lida Durdikova.  Originally published in Paris in 1935 by Flammarion as ‘Plouf, canard sauvage,’  it tells the story of the duckling’s birth, his first visit to the pond, a frightening attack by a hawk and his adventures out on a big lake before finally describing his migration south for the winter.

Russian illustrator, Feodor Rojankovsky, is quoted describing his artistic beginnings developing from a trip to a zoo being followed by a gift of colour crayons. His beautifully intricate drawings of Ploof and his friends show that animals must have continued to fire his imagination!

Photo 11-11-2015, 13 59 39

Ploof, Children’s Collection FOLIO–598-LID

Ploof, back cover. Children's Collection FOLIO--598-LID

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Peter Rabbit

Miami University Special Collections and Archives

Thesantis