3 Free eBooks - December 2012

The Internet has a growing number of online books….and many of them are free. This is the third monthly post highlighting 3 that I have found within the past month.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery have a number of online exhibitions available. The first one I looked at was Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass - but I am now working my way through others that look interesting.

Miltoun, Francis. Italian highways and byways from a motor car. Boston: L.C. Page; 1909. Available at http://archive.org/details/italianhighwaysb00milt this book includes color and black/white illustrations that capture the essence of a road trip through Italy in the early 1900s.

 Paul May at the Bristol Chemistry Department Home Page has been posting a Molecule of the Month since 1996. Reading the postings for 2012 (or an earlier year) is a short book. Learn about the molecule that gives raspberries their smell and botulinum toxin (anti-wrinkle/neurotoxin).

The previous eBook posts can be found here.

3 Free eBooks - October 2012

The Internet is chock full of good reads…and many of them are free. I’m going to start a monthly post highlighting three book length items. In some ways the post is similar to the weekly ‘Gleanings’ in that the items are found as part of my normal continuous learning habits; the items are different because they are longer, have more depth, and sometimes were published as books previously (sometimes long enough ago that they must be read with their vintage in mind). 

  • Hibberd, Shirley; Hulme, F. Edward. Familiar Garden Flowers. London: Cassell; 1879. Available from: http://archive.org/details/cu31924051745945 - Note the date. Just as in the Egyptian Birds book, the color prints are the draw for this book. How many of the flowers do you recognize? It is surprising how many are still ‘familiar’ to us. I found that I spent more time on the ones I didn’t recognize - trying to figure out why they had fallen out of popularity (or maybe just never became ‘familiar’ in North America). Looking the puzzling ones in Wikipedia sometimes provides an explanation.
  • Irwig L, Irwig J, Trevena L, et al. Smart Health Choices: Making Sense of Health Advice. London: Hammersmith Press; 2008. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63638/ - This book provides a strategy to enable meaningful conversations with your healthcare providers. Chapter 5 is the keystone of the book (entitled Smart Health Choice Essentials). The “Useful sources of health advice” section right before the glossary points to databases and websites that provide current information about treatments as well.
  • Whimper, Charles. Egyptian birds for the most part seen in the Nile Valley. London: A. and C. Black; 1909. Available from: http://archive.org/details/egyptianbirdsfor00whym - Note the date - well before a lot of excavation and the dam at Aswan. The colored pictures are what make this book worth the look. They are well labeled on the opposite page and include the surroundings. I particularly liked when the author included the hieroglyph or the bird as depicted in ancient Egyptian art. 


Gleanings of the Week Ending July 14, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Way out in a barren Chilean desert, the biggest telescope ever made is taking shape - Photos from the construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array

High-Tech Tools Give Researchers New View Of Yellowstone Thermal Features - Thermal maps of popular areas within the park

Electricity Storage - Wow - there are a lot of new ways out there and the idea of ‘storage’ of electricity implies a more robust infrastructure for reliable power than we have now

12 stats that matter to digital publishing - the number of people reading electronically rather than from paper is growing….and what/how they read is changing too

Heron Cam 2012 Highlights - All 5 have fledged from the Sapsucker Woods nest!

Scientific History and the Lessons for Today's Emerging Ideas -  A look back at what was happening in the 1890-1910 time period…lots of theories…some are threads to current theories, others are on the trash heap

Bridges for Animals - All around the world…this is an idea being tried to reduce road kill on highways

The 10 most pristine places on earth - none are in the US

Yama no sachi - A Japanese book from 1765. Read it on the Internet Archive. Use page down (or up) to browse through the book. It has illustrations of flowers, insects, and animals. My favorites are the peony (at right) and the poppy.

Drought leads to declaration of natural disaster in 26 US states - That’s more than half the states!

History of Botanical Print Making - Online Examples

Botanical prints have been popular since the beginning of books. They were intended to be educational and often show dissections of flowers or seed pods. They are often beautiful works of art as well.

Many of these old books have been scanned and are accessible via the Internet. I’ve created a time ordered sequence below and pointed to where you can find the whole book of similar prints.


Published in 1484, Peter Schoeffer’s Herbarius latinus contains simple drawings like on the right. The drawings clearly could not be used by themselves to identify a plant. This book was created not that long after the printing press became more widely used (i.e. the Gutenberg Bible was made in the 1450s).






In 1487, Hamsen Schonsperger published Gart der Gesundheit. An example showing an Iris is on the left; the color is rather primitive.  The images are embedded with the text rather than being on separate pages.




Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Das Distilierbuoch came in 1521. It has some plain drawings and some colored. The plain drawings show more detail than earlier drawings although some parts seem stylized rather than reflecting of reality as shown in the grape vine representation on the right. This book also include manufacturing type diagrams...it is a 'how to' book.











In 1546, Kreüter Buch, darin Underscheid, Würckung und Namen der Kreüter so in Deutschen Landen wachsen by Hieronymus Bock was published. The strawberries are easily recognizable. The color is a little better than in the 1400s example.






Skipping ahead to 1788 when Joseph Gaertner published De frvctibvs et seminibvs plantarvm the attention to detail had increased even more. 







In 1805, William Hooker published 2 volumes of The paradisus londinensis:or coloured figures of plants cultivated in the vicinity of the metropolis with color representations. While these volumes were focused on plants near London - the 1800s were a time of plant exploration around the globe and the botanical prints of the era made those discoveries more widely known with their realistic portrayals.





In 1818, William Jackson Hooker published 2 volumes of Musci exotici - with renditions of mosses. 









The 2 volume Florae Columbiae by Hermann Karsten was published in 1869. 





Medizinal Pflanzen was published in 4 volumes in 1887. I picked the dandelion print for the example from this book (on the right). Note the way the illustrator sought to fit as much as possible about the plant onto a single page.













In 1904, Kunstformen der Natur was published by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel. This book has a wide range of prints, not just botanical. The one of pitcher plant is shown at the left. 









In 1907, Alfred  Cogniaux published the many volumes of Dictionnaire iconographique des orchidees. The prints are lovely and grouped by the classification of orchids at the time. My favorite orchids are the slipper-like ones.


This is just a small sample of what is available. The two main repositories that I’ve used are Botanicus and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Both have many more volumes of botanical prints than I've shown here and I encourage you to browse through them. Both repositories have a similar online viewing design. The frame along the left side of the book browsing window generally shows which pages have an illustration (marked 'illustration' or 'plate' or 'tab', for example) so it is possible to skip to the pages that include prints.


Books of the Week: Mignon Eberhart mid-20th Century Mystery Novels

Mignon G. Eberhart wrote mysteries from 1920s to the 1980s. The reason I like them is not so much for the mystery (they are passable…not fabulous) but rather for the snippet of time and place each one represents:


  • Escape the Night - California in the 1940s during World War II
  • Fair Warning - 1930s - the relationship of men and women after the roaring 20s and before World War II
  • Family Affair - 1980s when US embassies are being overrun
  • Five Passengers from Lisbon - 1940s right after the end of World War II on a hospital ship crossing the Atlantic between Lisbon and Buenos Aires
  • Run Scared - political candidate potential impacted by his wife’s actions in the 1960s
  • Wolf in Man's Clothing – young men going off to war in the early part of World War II in the 1940s


Most of these are out of print to they are to be found among the used books. I’ve provided links to Amazon. Escape the Night and Five Passengers from Lisbon can be obtained from the Internet Archive. They are also available from Paperback Swap.