Conrad Gessner's Historiae Animalium
March 6, 2007 10:07 AM   Subscribe

A virtual copy of Historiae Animalium, the first pictorial catalogue of the animal world (lots of pretty pictures, but the text is all in latin). It was compiled in the 16th century by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner, who is considered the father of zoology (and, incidentally, also the father of bibliography [Word Document]).
posted by Kattullus (29 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The technology used here is "Turning the Pages" which was developed by The British Library and is now being licensed to libraries around the world - we should start seeing a flood of old books come online in this format over the next couple years. Here is a video about it. Apparently Windows Vista will make it even better, but not sure how.
posted by stbalbach at 10:17 AM on March 6, 2007

Cool! thanks Kattullus: I see they also have Ambroise Paré's Ouevres perusable in the same format. Slightly confusingly, 'Ambroise Paré's Ouevres' is also the title on the Gessner page.
posted by misteraitch at 10:30 AM on March 6, 2007

This is exceptionally good, thank you. I really enjoyed the fantastical animal illustrations.
posted by boo_radley at 10:41 AM on March 6, 2007

I loved both the interface and the unicorn. Thanks.
posted by ND¢ at 10:47 AM on March 6, 2007

Where's the website for people what thinks de Quadripedibus is scary?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:57 AM on March 6, 2007

Excellent. This kind of interface feels so much more accessible than other ebook formats. Until us dinosaur book-readers die out, I imagine this will be a major way for people to read books on their computers.

The book itself is fantastic as well. And thanks for the context on who he was.
posted by serazin at 10:57 AM on March 6, 2007

Having said that, the site seems to get 'stuck' a lot.
posted by serazin at 10:58 AM on March 6, 2007

This is awesome.
posted by brundlefly at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2007

The elephant is bizarre.
posted by brundlefly at 11:06 AM on March 6, 2007

If you don't happen to have Vista (or XP with SP2 and .NET3) this Microsoft blog post gives some idea what the interface could look like. Stuff like the page weight and material collapsing on itself in a realistic manner, textured surfaces, light glinting off gold leaf, etc..
posted by stbalbach at 11:08 AM on March 6, 2007

Nice, thanks Kattallus!
posted by carter at 11:26 AM on March 6, 2007

Good post. Here's the Turning the Pages™ site.
posted by steef at 11:31 AM on March 6, 2007

Nice. Is there any way to capture images with this interface?
posted by OmieWise at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2007

Why is the rhino wearing clothes?

Nice post, btw.
posted by janell at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2007

The standard explanation, janell, comes from Rudyard Kipling's How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin.
posted by Kattullus at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fantastic site and post—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 12:23 PM on March 6, 2007

It's fascinating how the creatures of the unexplored sea are much more fanciful than those on the land (except maybe for the sea serpent?).
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 12:43 PM on March 6, 2007

Fantastic interface. Am I the only one who felt like I was playing Myst?
posted by sicem07 at 12:52 PM on March 6, 2007

Use note: If you click on the "T" on the upper left, you get a short english summary of each set of pages.
posted by bonehead at 12:54 PM on March 6, 2007

OmieWise: 'control-PrintScreen' takes a screen capture; then paste into an image program.

Or you could simply go to the Keio University site which have (I think) larger jpeg images of the Gesner book, if the gimmickry of flash TTP is, as it is for me, annoying, unnecessary, restrictive and a general resources hog with little in the way of compensation (simulation of pages turning is a manifestation of life I can imagine without having to see it reproduced online: it is a redundant feature). I believe all that energy could be put to better use by serving up larger images or hosting more books.

And yes, I know the counterarguments and yes, I have my own selfserving interest in a way (which also translates as extensive user experience), but it's a presentation style that should not be encouraged IMHO: I don't believe adding some flash sparkle to an illumination in a manuscript is even necessary if large image files are available (or as a bandwidth alternative, sections of high resolution images). If you look at sites like Oxford University's medieval manuscripts, it shows what internet technology really has to offer -- you can see such clarity and detail of stroke pressure and thickness of paints and inks that you can understand how the pages were made and by how many hands etc --- you can't see this detail sitting in the room with the manuscript unless you have some magnifying device.

I'm just saying...

Thanks for the post Kattullus. Love Gesner.
posted by peacay at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2007

Oh, I beg your pardon - NLM have large jpeg images ('gallery of images') available for each of the TTP book from this page. In which case I withdraw any implied slur against NLM - having both types of media available is commendable.
posted by peacay at 1:55 PM on March 6, 2007

Anno M. D. LI.

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a while. Thanks.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:16 PM on March 6, 2007

Fantastic post--you rock.

Nice. Is there any way to capture images with this interface?

Omie, that was my first thought as well. I started going through a whole print-to-PDF work around, then realized that there is an image gallery for each book. This scary old Latin beaver will be gracing my next lecture on the fur trade.
posted by LarryC at 4:03 PM on March 6, 2007

Thanks for the explanation about the rhino's skin, Kattullus. Gave me a few a chuckles.
posted by janell at 8:36 PM on March 6, 2007

This is great. Thanks, Kattullus.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on March 6, 2007

Great, wish I could get my hands on a hard copy.

Anybody remember that book that's kind of like this but the animals are totally fake and the writing is like gibberish? It got posted here a couple.... years ago.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:00 AM on March 7, 2007

BlackLeotardFront, I'm not sure what book you're thinking of, but the description could fit the Voynich Manuscript or the Codex Seraphinianus.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:39 AM on March 7, 2007

Ah, thanks for the links to the image galleries.
posted by OmieWise at 5:10 AM on March 7, 2007

bullseye, aeschenkarnos, it was the Codex Seraphinianus. Thanks a lot!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:22 AM on March 9, 2007

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