The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection

The Collection

The Rebecca Ramos Natural History Book Collection contains, among its approximately one hundred titles, works of some of the more well-known as well as lesser known 19th century naturalists and nature illustrators.

From a signed limited edition of Tory Peterson's Audubon's Birds of America to John Lettsom's The Naturalists and Traveler's Companion (1799) and from Bewick's 1804 edition of History of British Birds to a set of select turn of the 20th century Biggle Farm Library books, the collection covers nearly all aspects of nature from the aquatic to flora and fauna.

The selections offered here represent just a small sampling of the works containing richly illustrated examples of the book's particular topic within the collection. Click the thumbnail image to view that book's illustrations


Beautiful Butterflies

Henry Gardiner Adams (ca.1811-1881) was born in England around 1811/12 and he died in 1881. He was the author of at least four bird books along with a small number of other books.

Adams was also a fan of the long book title. For example, in 1851 he published a small book on song birds: Favourite Song Birds; Containing a Popular Description of the Feathered Songsters of Britain; With an Account of Their Habits, Haunts and Characteristic Traits; Interspersed With Choice Passages From the Poets and Quotations From Eminent Naturalists. Published in London in 16mo format the book contained 12 colored lithographs by Edward Gilks in addition to those characteristically long-winded passages.

In 1870 Adams followed up with another long-winded title: Beautiful butterflies: described and illustrated with the history of a butterfly, through all its changes and transformations; and an explanation of the scientific terms used by naturalists in reference thereto. This edition, published in 12mo, is illustrated with 7 colored lithograph plates of butterflies. Catalog Record


Plants of the Holy Land

Henry Stafford Osborn (1823-1894) served as Professor of Natural Science at Roanoke College, and a Presbyterian minister. Well known for his work on Palestine's geography, he was a professional man of science who typified the dialogue between science and religion in the 19th century. Born on August 17, 1823, in Philadelphia, PA, Osborn attended the University of Pennsylvania, the Union Theological Seminary, and was ordained April 9, 1848.

Throughout his life Osborn served the ministry in various capacities and taught at several institutions for higher learning, including the "old" Miami University where he greatly expanded their natural history collections. Osborn traveled to the Palestine in 1858-1859 where he studied the region's geography and natural plant life.

The result of this trip was the publication of two books on the Palestine. The first, Palestine, Past and Present (1859), gave discourse on the geographic nature of the region and the second, Plants of the Holy Land with their Fruits and Flowers (1860), discusses and illustrates various historical plants found in the Holy Land. Catalog Record


Ocean Gardens

Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879), artist, naturalist, and numismatist, was born in Birmingham, England on January 4, 1810. The son of James Humphreys of that city, he was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham. Afterwards Humphreys lived in Italy for a number of years where he studied medieval manuscripts. Returning to England in 1843, Humphreys devoted himself mainly to illustrating works of natural history, such as Westwood's British Butterflies (1841).

Ocean Gardens, published in 1857, is actually two volumes in one. Volume one covers the aquatic world of the oceans and volume two, River Gardens, discusses the fresh water environment of the world's river systems. He was also the author of popular numismatic collecting handbooks as well as books on archaeology, and the art of writing and printing. Humphreys passed away at his home in London, on June 10, 1879. Catalog Record

Mushrooms of America

Julius A. Palmer, Jr. (1840-1899) was born in Massachusetts near Boston in 1840. Little is known of his early life other than he spent many years at sea eventually becoming a qualified sea Captain. Later in life Palmer was a journalist for a number of American newspapers including the New York Evening Post.

In 1893, as a Special Correspondent for the Daily Evening Transcript (Boston), Palmer traveled to Hawaii to report on the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, which ultimately led to the annexation of the island nation by the United States. Palmer wrote extensively about his Hawaiian experiences in a number of news articles and later published several books on them.

Mushrooms of America, published in 1885, was written for popular use rather than for professional men of science. The work was intended to help amateur mushroom foragers identify edible mushrooms in the wild, while avoiding poisonous species. The 12 vibrant color plates helped to identify the major types of mushrooms and explained which mushrooms should be carefully avoided. The captions on the edible varieties offered helpful cooking instructions ranging from roasting to sautéing to inclusion in sauces. Catalog Record


Familiar Birds

Susie Barstow Skelding (1857-1934) was an botanical artist, illustrator and author. She is perhaps best-known for her Flower Songs Series, in which Skelding created illustrations to accompany poems by well-known American poets. With Familiar Birds and what the Poets Sing of Them, Skelding worked with artist Fidelia Bridge in creating illustrations to match the selected poetry.

The niece of the well-known Brooklyn landscape painter Susie M. Barstow, Skelding was also a member of the Brooklyn Art Club. The Brooklyn Art Club, organized in 1878, was an art society for professional artists. The Club held annual exhibitions for both the exhibition and sale of art work created by Club members. Membership was open to both men and women. Exhibitions were held at Sherk's Galleries located on Fulton Street, in what is now the neighborhood of Downtown Brooklyn, and later at the Art Association Galleries on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights

Susie B. Skelding passed away in 1934 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Catalog Record




Our Northern and Eastern Birds

Edward Augustus Samuels (1836-1908) was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 4, 1836. Receiving a public school education, Samuels began writing for the press at an early age. From 1860-1880, Samuels was the assistant to the secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture and also served as "curator of state natural history collections" during that period. From 1885-1892, he was President of the Massachusetts Fish and Game Protective Agency.

Among his many interests, Samuels was involved in publishing musical works and worked on a process for photographic engraving directly from nature. During the 1860s, Samuels published papers on ornithology including his Ornithology and Otology of New England, which appeared in 1867; it was reissued in 1870 as The Birds of New England. His other works include With Fly-Rod and Camera (1890), which the Dictionary of American Biography credits as being "perhaps the first publication to suggest the 'hunting with a camera,' instead of a gun."

On June 28, 1869, Samuels married Susan Blagge Caldwell, a naturalist and writer of non-fiction in her own right. Born in Dedham, Massachusetts, on October 21, 1848, she authored numerous stories that appeared in juvenile magazines and religious weeklies, and of a series of books called Springdale Stories (6 vols., Boston, 1871), which were re-issued as Golden Rule Stories in 1886. Catalog Record


Canaries and cage-birds

George Henry Holden, (1848-1914) was a 19th century entrepreneur who worked for and with Charles and Henry Reiche. The Reiche brothers were well-known bird importers and dealers at the time with a store in Boston.

Holden's skill was in marketing and the Reiche brothers, realizing that Holden's advertising methods was a good way to promote business, published Holden's Book on Birds, written by George Holden's brother, Charles Holden, in 1873. Holden later bought out the Reiche brothers in 1876 and by 1879 he had stores operating in Providence, RI, and New York City.

George Holden then published his own Canaries and Cage Birds in 1883, along with heavily illustrated catalogs promoting an expanded stock not only of birds but his own brand of bird seed, medicine, and cages. He even employed the business strategy of taking out and publicizing patents, in this case Holden's Patent Cups. These were feeders that prevented birds from scattering their seed or bathing in their drinking water.

Holden's New York business was so long lived and successful that it occupied a Fifth Avenue storefront by the late 1920s. Holden, unfortunately, didn't live long enough to see the continued success of his New York store as he contracted an illness in September of 1914 from which he never recovered from. Catalog Record


Squirrels and Other Fur Bearers

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was born on April 3, 1837 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he spent his youth working the family farm and exploring neighboring Old Clump Mountain. His favorite place on the mountain was Boyhood Rock where he would sit and study the ways of nature around him.

He was a teacher, a journalist, a treasury clerk in Washington, DC (where he met and befriended Walt Whitman), and a bank examiner before returning to his beloved Catskills. In 1871, his first book Wake Robin was published. In 1874, Burroughs bought a small farm in Esopus, NY, and devoted himself completely to his writing. Later, he would divide his time between "Slabsides", his summer retreat at West Park, near Esopus, and "Woodchuck Lodge" in Roxbury, MA.

Over the years, Burroughs wrote 23 volumes of essays, from studies of birds and nature to religion and literature, 3 of which were published posthumously. In later years his guests at Woodchuck Lodge included John Muir, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone. He died on March 29, 1921 on a train returning from California. He was buried on his 84th birthday, near Boyhood Rock, on Old Clump Mountain in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Catalog Record


The Tropical World

Georg Ludwig Hartwig (1813-1880) was born on August 11, 1813 in London and passed away on March 10, 1880 in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg. He studied medicine in Antwerp, Göttingen, Paris, Lüttich/Liège, and applied his medical skills at Ostende in Belgium.

Hartwig spent his life, when not practicing medicine, writing and publishing a number of popular natural history books, including the - at the time - acclaimed The Polar and Tropical Worlds: A Description Of Man And Nature In The Polar And Equatorial Regions Of The Globe. This treatise is an account of the expeditions of all the Arctic explorers from the discovery of Iceland, to Charles Hall's last Artic expedition (1872), together with the discoveries and adventures of Dr. Livingstone and other distinguished 19th century explorers of the tropics.

The Tropical World: Aspects of Man and Nature in the Equatorial Regions of the Globe was first published in 1873 by Spottiswoode and Co. of London. Similiar to Hartwig's previous books, The Tropical World is organized in much the same manner as his other nature books and contains details pertinent to the equatorial zone. Fifteen editions were published in English between 1873 and 1892. Catalog Record




The Sea and Its Living Wonders

The Sea and It's Living Wonders, A Popular Account of the Marvels of the Deep, also published by Hartwig, was first published in 1860. Exploring the world's oceans, Hartwig divided the book into three parts covering the physical characteristics of the world's oceans, all manner of sea life, and the maritime history of discovery, which even includes a chapter on maritime constructions, such as lighthouses.

Unlike other illustration processes, the illustrations for both of these books were created using a woodblock printing method called Chromoxylographic printing. The process, while intricate and time consuming, uses a series of identical carved woodblooks for each color of ink needed for the print. Twenty-nine editions of the The Sea and Its Living Wonders were published between 1860 and 1892. Catalog Record