Monday, December 29, 2014

Things in Prints

From: Racinet's "Le Costume Historique," Paris, 1888. Printed by Firmin Didot & Co.

The defining instinct of the traditional orientalist was to essentialize. Cataloguing diversity, somewhat  paradoxically, represented an integral tool for essentialization. Scholars devoted much of the 19th century to compiling encyclopedic entries showing variations on a theme – native pipes, native weapons, natives, mechanical objects and domestic animals – all in the hopes of better understanding the essence of these categories themselves. The results of such endeavors included scientific medicine and scientific racism. For those who got to enjoy the benefits of the former without the latter it was a great deal: no polio or discrimination. For those who suffered discrimination so severe they did not benefit from the good parts, it was an insidious tradeoff. For most everyone else, the result was something of a mixed bag.

Today the urge to catalogue lives on today as a singular 19th century aesthetic. Compiled below, from the amazing Flickr archives of the British Library, are some singular examples of the genre: “Diverse Objects,” Eskimo Knives, Earrings, Wash Tubs, Pigs, Bicycles, Criminal Types, Bulgarian Types, and so much more

Cassell's Illustrated History of the Russo-Turkish War

The Guide to Port Elizabeth. Illustrated

Palestine Past and Present

Six Years of Adventure in the Congoland

Antropologia generale. Lezioni su l'uomo secondo la teoria dell'evoluzione ... raccolte e pubblicate ... da G. Raverdino e G. B. Vigo

Dinosaurs, silk worms, blow darts and so much more after the break...