Alembic Blog

A Lovely 1930s Herbarium of British Plants

Our loveliest recent acquisition is this herbarium created during the 1930s by Elsie T. Skinner, who was attending St. Katharine's College in Tottenham. We specialise in herbaria of various types, especially those made by women, and this one is particularly nice. It contains 151 carefully mounted specimens, representing a remarkable 121 different species from around the UK.

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Prints from Life: Ernst Wilhelm Martius and the History of Nature Printing

Does this print illustrating the belladonna plant look unusual to you? It's from a wonderful 18th-century book that we recently acquiredNeueste Anweisung, Pflanzen nach dem Leben abzudrucken by Wilhelm Martius. Compared to most botanical illustrations of the period (and even modern ones) this example is exceptionally detailed—you can see tiny veins in the leaves, the texture of the stem, and areas where the edges of the leaves have folded over on themselves, as if a living plant was preserved between the book's pages. And that tells us we're looking at, not a typical engraving first produced in wood or metal by an artisan, but a work of nature printing—an impression taken directly from a plant or animal.

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