Old books about birds


Pheasants, wood pigeons, wrynecks, 19 October 2014

On 19 October 2014, in Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, there were not only the recent natural history books of the Jan Wolkers Prize nominees, and the old natural history books discussed by nominee Alexander Reeuwijk. There was also this 1904 book about birds. Again, all photos in this blog post are cellphone made.

This bird book, Het Vogeljaar (The Bird Year), is by famous Dutch naturalist Jac. P. Thijsse. In later editions, pictures like this one would be replaced by photos. This picture shows pheasants, wood pigeons and wrynecks.

Wryneck, 19 October 2014

This detail of the picture shows a wryneck.

Colourful birds, 19 October 2014

Second hand bookshop Moby Dick (called after the famous Herman Melville novel) from Noordwijk had brought late nineteenth-early twentieth century books to the museum. Like this one from 1886 by Dutch author A. Nuyens. The picture shows colourful birds: starling, red-backed shrike, golden oriole, Bohemian waxwing, jay, hoopoe and kingfisher.

Snowy owls, 19 October 2014

Next to it, this book, by Irishman Francis Orpen Morris: A History of British Birds. The photo shows a male and a female snowy owl.

Flycatchers and waxwing, 19 October 2014

A book from Germany was present as well. It was Deutsches Vogelbuch für Forst- und Landwirte, Jäger, Naturfreunde und Vogelliebhaber (1907). Kurt Floericke was the author. Albert Kull made the pictures. This page shows various Old World flycatcher species, and a Bohemian waxwing.

Cranes, 19 October 2014

Finally, a picture of cranes. Two demoiselle cranes, and a Siberian crane.

Old and new natural history books


Alexander Reeuwijk, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This photo shows author Alexander Reeuwijk behind a table with old natural history books in Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. Like the other photos of this blog post, this is a cellphone photograph, of 19 October 2014.

On that day, as this blog already noted, Remco Daalder, Amsterdam city ecologist, was awarded the Jan Wolkers Prize. This prize is named after famous Dutch artist and author Jan Wolkers. Natural history was one of his subjects. The Jan Wolkers Prize is for the best natural history book of the year in the Netherlands. Remco Daalder’s book is about swifts.

Remco Daalder’s book had been nominated for the prize shortlist along with four other books. One of them was Alexander Reeuwijk’s book about nineteenth century British naturalist and evolution theorist Alfred Russel Wallace and his travels in Indonesia.

The three other nominations were for Mathijs Deen, for a book on the Wadden Sea region; Bibi Dumon Tak for her children’s book on common animals; and various authors for a book on Planken Wambuis nature reserve.

Back to Alexander Reeuwijk. He presented his ten favourite natural history books from the Naturalis collections. These books were from the sixteenth till the twentieth centuries.

Pierre Belon's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The oldest of Alexander’s ten books was from 1553. It was by Pierre Belon from France, about fish. Belon is often seen as the first ichthyologist. In Belon‘s time, fishes were not differentiated from aquatic mammals, aquatic invertebrates, etc. The book discussed over a 100 species for the first time ever.

The copy in Leiden is of De aquatilibus; the Latin translation of the French original.

Pierre Belon's book on sharks, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The book contains many woodcut pictures, including of hammerheads and other sharks.

Alexander Reeuwijk’s next book was from five years later, from 1558. It was by Conrad Gessner from Switzerland.

Lobster, in Gessner's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Gessner’s Historiae animalium was the first attempt to describe all the animals known. Including the lobster pictured here on a woodcut in the book.

Lobster, watercolour, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The original watercolour depiction of the lobster, used for the woodcut, is also present in Naturalis.

Mark Catesby, parrots, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The next book was based on two books, originally in English. Mark Catesby died in 1749. He wrote Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, published 1729-1747. George Edwards wrote A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, published 1743-1764. Catesby’s and Edwards’ books contain many pictures of birds considered as ‘exotic’ by eighteenth century Europeans, like parrots in North America and the Caribbean.

Mark Catesby's and Edwards' Dutch translation, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Catesby’s and Edwards’ books were translated into Dutch by M. Houttuyn, and published as Verzameling uitlandsche en zeldzaame vogelen in 1772-1781.

Spotted sandpiper, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This picture in the Dutch translation depicts, below, a spotted sandpiper from the Americas.

Alexander’s fourth book was Nederlandsche Vogelen, about Dutch birds, by Nozeman and Sepp, published in various volumes 1770-1829.

Book number five was Histoire Naturelle des plus Rares Curiosoitez de la Mer des Indes. By Louis Renard, about marine life in Indonesia. The Leiden copy was published in 1782, after the author’s death.

Next, a book about plants in the Netherlands: the Flora Batava. Jan Kops wrote the first volume, published in 1800.

Then, Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinacés (1808). Written by Coenraad Temminck; about pigeons. With pictures by Pauline de Courcelles Knip.

Mauritius blue pigeon

One of Ms de Courcelles Knip’s pictures for the book shows a Mauritius blue pigeon; now extinct.

The next book was about kingfishers. It was A monograph of the Alcedinidae: or, family of kingfishers, 1868-1871, by Richard Bowdler Sharpe. John Keulemans made the pictures.

Then, a book from the USA, by Sherman Foote Denton. It was As Nature Shows Them : Moths and Butterflies of the United States, East of the Rocky Mountains; from 1898.

Finally, another book on birds in the Netherlands: Ornithologia Neerlandica, de vogels van Nederland, 1922-1935. Eduard Daniel van Oort wrote it. Marinus Koekkoek painted the pictures.

Rare medieval bookmark discovery in Leiden, the Netherlands


This video is called Rare medieval bookmark.

About this video, from Leiden university in the Netherlands:

Rare medieval bookmark found in Leiden University Library

A rare medieval bookmark emerged in Leiden University Library. Book historian Erik Kwakkel found the disk in an archive of manuscript descriptions called the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta. It was likely put their [sic; there] in the early twentieth century by Willem de Vreese, who made the descriptions. The presence of the bookmark was not known to the library. Only thirty-five bookmarks of this type have been identified worldwide.

The bookmark concerns a disk with the numbers 1-4 written on it. Originally, it would have been fitted in a sleeve, which could be pulled up and down along a cord. The reader would turn the disk to indicate in what text column certain information was found, after which he pulled the sleeve to the relevant line. Page, column and line were thus marked. The specimen in Leiden is incomplete, as only the disk itself survived. However, this manuscript in Harvard’s Houghton Library illustrates how the bookmark works.

Although it is hard to determine the precise date of the bookmark, it was likely made in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It appears to have been popular in learned books and it reflects how scholars from the thirteenth century began to use their books. No longer were the objects merely used to read from cover to cover, but an interest emerged to read particular sections. To facilitate such use, various aids became widely used, including the index, running titles, and detailed chapter titles. The rotating bookmark can be understood as yet another means to quickly and efficiently find your way to a particular passage. The thumbprints on the Leiden specimen suggests it was frequently used.

The bookmark has been moved to the manuscript collection and has been given the shelfmark BPL 3327. The find was first reported on Erik Kwakkel’s blog medievalbooks.nl and in De Volkskrant of 2 October, 2014.

Last Modified: 02-10-2014.

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, from novel to religion


This video is called Lord of the Rings- The two towers, Battle of the Hornburg Part 1 HD.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Markus Altena Davidsen’s thesis is the first major work on the Tolkien religion. In it he examines the religion that is based on the stories of British fantasy writer JRR Tolkien. He also explains how fiction can become religion. Davidsen will get his PhD on 16 October. …

The second characteristic of religious fiction texts is that they explicitly claim to be truthful. The texts have to say about themselves that they are about the real world, or at least question their own fictionality. Tolkien did that in the preface to the first edition of The Lord of the Rings. He said he hoped that the Hobbits who are still alive today in our world will like the book. Later he much regretted this, possibly because he thought that being a very strict Roman Catholic, he should not have committed that frivolity. But for many Tolkien religious believers that does not matter at all.

From the summary of the PhD dissertation by Markus Altena Davidsen:

The Spiritual Tolkien Milieu: A Study of Fiction‐based Religion

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the history, social organisation, and belief dynamics of the spiritual Tolkien milieu, a largely online‐situated network of individuals and groups that draw on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary mythology for spiritual inspiration.

It is the first academic treatment of Tolkien spirituality and one of the first monographs on fiction‐based religion, a type of religion that uses fiction as authoritative texts.

Other fiction‐based religions include Jediism (based on George Lucas’ Star Wars) and the Church of All Worlds (inspired by Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land).

The first religious practices inspired by Tolkien’s narratives appeared in the late 1960s after the publication of a paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings in 1965.

New orchid species gets Jane Goodall’s name


This video is called Jane Goodall: A Retrospective.

Translated from the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Friday, October 3, 2014 10:10

Scientists of Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Hortus Botanicus Leiden have named an orchid that was discovered in 2003 during a collecting trip in Papua New Guinea by dr. EF de Vogel and Art Vogel after Jane Goodall: Dendrobium goodallianum.

Dendrobium goodallianum

The orchid blooms only one day and smells like coconut. Once the orchid blooms, it will be displayed behind glass to the public.

Currently Jane Goodall is in the top ten of the most influential women in the world. She is United Nations peace ambassador and travels the world 300 days a year to fight for the future of our endangered planet. The orchid was named after her because of her constant commitment to the preservation of biodiversity and her outstanding work in conservation.

See also here.

I certainly hope that the influence of famous primatologist and United Nations peace ambassador Jane Goodall will prevail over the influence of some influential, but not so constructive women. Though most warmongering is done by men, a few women like Samantha Power and Condoleezza Rice have done major harm to the cause of peace.

Ancient Egyptian pharaoh statues, new in museum


Statue of Pharaoh Ninetjer

Translated from the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden today:

The National Museum of Antiquities has bought two ancient Egyptian pharaoh statues, including the oldest statue in the world with a pharaoh‘s name on it. It is a seated figure of pharaoh Ninetjer, one of the first kings of ancient Egypt (ca. 2785-2742 BC). The museum also bought a tomb statue of pharaoh Taharqa (690-664 BC.), one of the “black pharaohs” from Sudan.

Until the beginning of November 2014, you can see the pharaoh statues in a display in the entrance hall of the museum, next to the Egyptian temple. In 2016, they will get a prominent place in the by then renovated Egyptian department.

The Ninetjer statue is 13 centimeter high. The hieroglyph inscription on the statue says: ‘King of Upper and Lower Egypt, protected by the vulture and cobra, Ninetjer’. The cobra was the symbol of northern Egypt; the vulture of southern Egypt.

Pharaoh Taharqa statue

The Taharqa statue is 35 centimeter.

William Shakespeare sonnet on building


Shakespeare sonnet on building, 8 September 2014

There are poems on various buildings in Leiden city in the Netherlands. This one, in the inner city, is William Shakespeare‘s Sonnet XXX.

Shakespeare sonnet, 8 September 2014

These are cellphone photos.