Why would I buy a Field Guide to Mushrooms when it’s in German?

On Saturday I wrote about the history behind some of my finds at The Special Store. I’d found some 55 year old church fans, and a 1927 field guide to mushrooms- in German. There were some other finds too, but those were the historical ones.

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:

So nice!

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.

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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.

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The haul from The Special Store

The Special Store is indeed special.

Someone told me about a little store in a littler town where the owner buys auctioned boxes from estate sales, and resells them in this little store. It’s a jumbled place. The front part of the store where an organized display has been attempted is still crowded up with stuff. The first time through I missed an important find. The back is even more jumbled. But this, of course, is the charm of the place. I love poking around a place where the likelihood of finding something good is high but the prices are low. And the prices are indeed affordable! The best of all was the lady working there that day. She was easy going, no pressure, helpful and cheerful. I loved her. My shopping experience there on Saturday was delightful and I left very satisfied.

I like to collect china, especially teacups and teapots, and I collect art. My preference for original art makes the prospect of affordability even more dim, lol. In addition, I have 2 and a half rooms in my apartment and only so much wall space and display space. I loathe disorganization and clutter. I need to be very careful about what I take in and how much I collect. Therefore long periods go by when I do not shop or even think abut shopping. But every once in a while, usually at a transition time like this week’s end of school/beginning of summer, I like to break out and do something different on my routine, to celebrate.

Saturday I drove to an antique store and I was very pleased with the quality of items they offered. I loved the art room. Frankly, I was blown away by the art there. I loved the book room, where everything was organized by topic. The clothes room contained vintage clothing of high quality. However, the price on everything was on point meaning expensive. It was out of my range.

I took a slow drive down unfamiliar roads and unpaved roads and back roads and red dirt roads. It was a bright day and I enjoyed taking photos of my bucolic surroundings as I headed up to the other store.

Jackpot. Immediately I saw a hundred things I wanted! But since I am careful and thoughtful about purchases, I took my time, and I mean, a long time. This is what I like about shopping by myself. I can take as long as I want and I do not have to worry that I am irritating the other person, or holding her up. I discovered many wonderful collectibles, plus original art.

This first photo is of a piece of art I bought. It was in the 75% off room, marked down to $4.50. It is a piece by Carolyn Shores Wright, a Huntsville Alabama artist of watercolors and prints. Her work has been licensed for reprint by Audubon cards, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Yankee Magazine and many others for inclusion on collector plates, greeting cards, porcelain mugs, stationary products, books, fabrics, wallpaper, dining products, window decorations, t-shirts, tabletop figurines. She has since returned to producing original art. Mine is an original work, an artist’s proof, signed.

So cute!! And well framed, too. Mrs Wright’s work can be purchased at Etsy or from her own website. I hung this in my kitchen over the ‘tea bar.’

As for fine bone china finds, well, here we go.

This one is easy to date. Marks on china saying “Made in Occupied Japan” (MIOJ) were produced between 1945 and 1952. So this very cup is between 65 and 72 years old! This puts it in the “vintage” category, since “antique” doesn’t begin until an item has reached 100 years old. Cathy at the 4C’s wrote,

Following the end of World War II in 1945 and until 1952, items imported from Japan to the United States had to be marked in a fashion indicating they came from Occupied Japan. Although four different marks were used on cups and saucers during this time (“Japan,” “Made in Japan,” “Occupied Japan,” and “Made in Occupied Japan”), only the last two marks guarantee the pieces were made in the Occupied Japan timeframe. For serious Occupied Japan collectors, it is items with these two marks for which they search.

Many of these MOIJ items did not have a maker’s mark on them, so I don’t know if my cup and saucer were made by Noritake or whoever. The predominant pattern at that time was roses, so again, it makes finding the manufacturer just that more difficult.

Why were items stamped MIOJ in the first place? After Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945, the economy was terrible, as you can imagine. Exports marked ‘Japan’ were not selling because of emotions running high, Japan being ‘the bad guys’ in the recently concluded war. People were angry for a long time about the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor and the loss of so many of our men. MOIJ softened the blow and while emotions ran high until Japan was on her feet again and anger subsided. As far as MOIJ being collectible, the answer is yes.

At eBay we read, It’s a piece of history from an era long gone.  Little did anyone foresee adding the word “occupied”  would create an entire new area of collecting. Unmarked pieces, which otherwise were exactly like the marked versions, are generally valued about 50 percent to 75 percent of the marked pieces according to the book “Today’s Hottest Collectibles”.

By the way, the most credible online places to find information are Kovel’s, Replacements.com, and Ruby Lane.

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I found a wonderful teapot! What I was on the hunt for was not what I ended up finding. I am looking for a traditional English Fine Bone China 4-cup pot in the usual flower motifs. Like this sweet precious I passed up 9 years ago at a yard sale and never forgot it. Though it is a little big, probably why I passed it up. But I knew it was something, that’s why I took the photo. So I could torture myself. Anyway, I already own two Japanese teapots, one is a tetsubin cast iron, and the other is a crackle Kutani. I wanted an English teapot, not another Japanese looking one.

The one I let get away…

No, what I found was quite the opposite. It is by an American manufacturer, and in a deco-mid century motif at first I didn’t like but now I love. And come to find out, Hall teapots are extremely collectible. Thanks, mom, for giving me an eye.

Hall is an Ohio manufacturer of china and other kitchenware. According to Kovel’s

Hall China Company started in East Liverpool, Ohio, in 1903. The firm made many types of wares. Collectors search for the Hall teapots made from the 1920s to the 1950s. The dinnerwares of the same period, especially Autumn Leaf pattern, are also popular. Other famous patterns include Blue Blossom, Crocus, Red Poppy, and Taverne. The Hall China Company is still working. Autumn Leaf pattern dishes are listed in their own category.

All I have been able to discover so far is that due to the style of backstamp, the teapot was likely made in the 1920s-30s. Also, the style/shape is called Philadelphia. The Hall pots’ shape were named after cities and then the style was applied with its name, such as Basketweave, or Autumn Leaves. I have searched and searched but I haven’t been able to identify the pattern yet. I only found one reference to a Hall teapot in this style on a Philadelphia pot, on an original advertisement, but the writing is too small for me to read the caption. The ad printed in 1940, so the pot was introduced sometime in 1920s and was still selling in the ’40s. If you know the name of the pattern, please let me know and put me out of my misery!

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Nippon is the old name for Japan, so it makes this one easy to date. It’s a salt shaker.

It dates from between 1891 and 1921. I know this because US customs began requiring country of origin in 1891 when the McKinley Tariff was passed in 1890. Nippon was a transliteration of Japan at the time. In 1921 it changed to Japan. So the salt shaker could be up to 126 years old. It is hand painted. I know this because the backstamp of simply ‘Noritake’ atop ‘Nippon’ means the stamp was applied to a blank piece and after the artist painted it he would add his signature. (source). They began this practice around 1911. So more likely the salt shaker is about 105 years old.

I am unsure why this piece is absent the artist signature, unless it was added to the missing pepper shaker. Anyway, I verified that the Noritake in cobalt, with slash then under that the Nippon meant that the piece was sent out as blank, to be painted later. I searched for ‘Noritake Nippon salt shaker” and I found similar ones for sale or displayed online, so…I assume it is genuine.

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I found this sweet dish also.

According to Royal W. backstamp history, the R in a circle in Royal Worcestershire means the dish was made between 1890 and 1921. However I got conflicting information when I went to Replacements.com and learned that this pattern is called ‘Summer Flowers’ and was manufactured after 1974 but is now discontinued. So…?? The dish feels new, not antique. It might not be old. Or it might be! I’ll keep researching. I like doing that.

I thought it was a butter pat, originally. But when I got it home it was bigger than my Spode butter pat, and I learned that it is in fact a pin dish. Women who sewed would put their pins in a dish rather than a pincushion. Dishes of this sort are also used as a button dish, trinket dish, ring dish, or just to display!

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I found one other thing. It is a large serving spoon, obviously hammered by hand. The back says Hecho en Mexico Silver Plateado. It is silver plate, and according to the large capital P on top, it was made in a Mexican city starting with P. If it was M it’d be Mexico Coty, a T meant Taxco. But P?? I dunno. Not yet. Maybe Puebla. It is a beautiful and hefty piece. The lady at the store knew it too and though no price was on it,she said, “This will be $3.” I didn’t quibble. It was worth it.

It was a fun day and the researching after I returned home was also very fun. I like adding beautiful pieces to surround myself with. I’m glad I was told about The Special Store. It was a good day!