One of the fun things about looking through older books is the illustrations.  There wasn’t photography, so the illustrations were printed.  Some of them are incredibly detailed because they were part of the scientific record.  Researchers relied on these illustrations to be accurate representations.  Some are even hand colored.  Their beauty comes across in photos too, but there is nothing like turning the page of a book to discover a beautiful print you weren’t expecting.   Here are some examples from a collection of science books that recently came into the lab for treatment.  The plates aren’t damaged, but the bindings are showing their age which explains why they came into the lab. 

This etching is from an Italian publication published in 1802, the 9th volume of “Memorie di Matematica e di Fisica della Societa Italiana delle Scienze.”

This image was hand colored with blue in addition to the printed black and red areas.  It is from 1810, volume 15 part 2 of the same Italian publication as the plant shown above.

This hand colored lithograph of an insect is from the 1846 edition of “The Annals and Magazine of Natural History” out of London.  It is a male of the species Cheirotonus MacLeaii that was found in the Northern Himalayas.  It was about 2 1/2 inches long!

This is the binding of the book that the insect print is from.  It definitely needs some work before it goes back of the shelf.