When I was describing the history behind the church fans, and the old alphabetic number telephone exchanges, the essay got long. I’d decided to write about the German Mushroom field guide later.
Later is now. 🙂
The German word Fuhrer means ‘leader’ or ‘guide’. Hitler obviously used the word as Leader. The Field Guide uses the word as Guide.
I like old books, and this one is a good old one. The pictures were hand painted and then reproduced in the book. They’re gorgeous.
Sydney Living Museums has an entry on botanical illustrations–
Botanical illustration is the art of depicting the form, color, and details of plant species, frequently in watercolor paintings. They must be scientifically accurate but often also have an artistic component and may be printed with a botanical description in book, magazines, and other media or sold as a work of art.
I like botanical illustrations. This is a picture (a bad one with reflection) of a large botanical over my couch. It’s the main photo in my living room. As a bonus, it nicely matches the couch.
I have two natural history books, old ones with hand painted plates inside. One is The popular history of the Mollusca; comprising a familiar account of their classification, instincts and habits, and of the growth and distinguishing characters of their shells By Mary Roberts. Printed by London by Reeve and Benham, in 1851. It’s 396 pages, with 18 hand painted color plates, like these:
Before photography, artistic drawings were the only way to show people the items they were teaching about. After Darwin’s Theory of Species was published, it sparked an interest in the natural world. Explorers, especially from Britain, went out to discover, draw, and bring back samples of flora and fauna of all kinds. Books were written, field guides were published.
Artists were in their heyday, drawing all manner of bugs, animals, plants, trees, birds, and the like. Even today, there is an American Society of Botanical Artists who specialize in detailed drawings and paintings of things that grow.
I also have a Botanicals calendar book from the British Museum I’d bought at a flea market. I use it in crafting.
I have four other field guides. One is for mammals, another is for Atlantic fish, and two are for seashells. I used to have one for birds but I gave it away. I’ve also got three encyclopedias of shells:
The field guides are old. Now I have one for mushrooms to add.
I got interested in field guides when my husband and I lived in our camper van and went across country, and when we lived on the sailboat and sailed up and down the eastern seaboard. I wanted to know what I was seeing. When I ceased traveling, I kept the books even though I don’t go out much anymore, because they are interesting and pretty books. I love my book collection. It’s been added-to over many years, each book carefully selected, and arranged in useful ways on my bookshelves.
So knowing that, now you might understand why I picked up the German Field Guide to Mushrooms. I can use the pages for crafting, I can leaf through and just enjoy the botanicals, and/or I can add it to my collection of field guides. The pages have darkened to brown with age, and are extremely brittle so I have to handle it carefully.
As for the book itself: the title is variably translated as:
Guide for mushroom lovers. The most common edible and poisonous mushrooms; By Michael, Edmund, 1849-1920. Or, Guide for Mushroom Hunters.
This seems to be THE standard for field guides to mushrooms, from what I have researched. His Field Guide was published 4 times according to Mushroom The Journal:
Edmund Michael (1895) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 1 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1901) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 2 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1905) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 3 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1927) Führer für Pilzfreunde, systematische geordnet und gänzlich neu bearbeitet von Roman Schulz (Guide for mushroom hunters, systematically arranged and totally revised by Roman Schulz) 3 vol.
There are 144 pages of introductory text, and then 386 colored plates with descriptions.
It’s quite a feat when all your most popular books come out after you’re dead. Michael studied agriculture in Leipzig, and ended up teaching at the agricultural academy in Auerbach from 1884 on. He wrote a field guide that it became an establishment of its own, bearing his name (sort oflike the contemporary “Webster’s” dictionaries) long after he was no longer a contributor.
We learn this from Wikipedia translated from German.
Edmund Michael was senior teacher at the Agricultural School in Auerbach. In 1895, his guide for mushroom friends first appeared with illustrations by the painter Albin Schmalfuß from Leipzig , who appeared in six editions and three volumes until his death and made him known as a fungal father.
Here is an example of one of the illustrations inside:
The book was $1.
Who can resist? Not me.
Here are a few of my favorite mushroom pics I’ve taken. BTW I had eggs with mushrooms this morning for breakfast. I like mushrooms.
I mean, look at the variety! And this small selection is by far not representative of the ones I have photos of from just my yard.
So I picked up a Field Guide to mushrooms in German for $1. I had fun with researching the author, admiring the paintings inside, adding it to my field guide collection, and researching & writing about botanicals. A nice way to spend a morning!
Have a good day everyone.
PS If you have Netflix you might enjoy the British show Dealers Put Your Money Where Your mouth Is, where British antiques dealers spend a certain amount at a thrift sale, auction, or flea market, explain what the items are and the history behind them, and then compete to try and make the most profit in reselling. I like the show because they explain what the items are and why they’re interested in them. Also, the competition is extremely friendly and not a ripoff against the buyers or the antiques sellers. The donate all their profits to charity.