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Taburete de elefante se decomisa

Por Irina Podgorny y Susana V. García, Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata, Argentina

Visita a las colecciones Zoológicas de la Universidad de las Islas Baleares en Mallorca, donde se destacan los objetos decomisados por la Guardia Civil y allí depositados en guarda provisoria hasta la finalización del juicio por la tenencia de partes de animales protegidos por las leyes europeas.

Museo Nacional de la Cerámica de Sèvres, primer piso, obras de artistas contemporáneos.

Museo de la caza y la naturaleza, París.

Una vitrina en el Aeropuerto internacional de Turín conteniendo una serie de objetos de origen natural cuya importación y transporte se hallan prohibidos por las leyes italianas están sujetos al decomiso e incautación por parte de los carabinieri. Entre ellos, los huevos de tortuga, las caparazones de especies en peligro y el marfil, tallado o en estado “natural”.

Cuatro lugares diferentes, desconectados entre sí por la geografía, la función y la lengua.

El primero, visitado en el transcurso de la misión de Susana García en Barcelona, febrero y marzo de 2022. Los últimos, por Irina Podgorny en el marco de su estadía en el Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de París y su participación enTaller sobre la colección de cráneos en el Museo Lombroso de la Universidad de Turín.

Diferentes pero unidos por la presencia de un objeto más que particular: los taburetes o paragüeros hechos con patas de elefante, una tipología que habla de épocas no muy lejanas y de un comercio subsidiario a la explotación del marfil y la caza mayor en África.

Un objeto surgido en el siglo XIX pero que, a pesar de todas las prohibiciones, se sigue comercializando y produciendo y se ofrece a la venta como pie de una mesa ratona de vidrio, de unos 40 cm de altura, provista de  un sistema  de iluminación eléctrica.

O  transformados en puf, con un almohadón rebatible. O solos, con fecha de manufactura que data de hace 100 años de manera de cumplir con las condiciones del Reglamento CE 338-97 de 9 de diciembre de 1996 art. 2 sobre la venta y circulación de animales vivos o muertos que integraran la lista de especies en peligro. Se trata de un caso que entra en la categoría  de

            « spécimens travaillés acquis plus de cinquante ans auparavant » : les spécimens dont l’état brut naturel a été largement modifié pour en faire des bijoux, des objets décoratifs, artistiques ou utilitaires, ou des instruments de musique, plus de cinquante ans avant l’entrée en vigueur du présent règlement et dont l’organe de gestion de l’État membre concerné a pu s’assurer qu’ils ont été acquis dans de telles conditions. De tels spécimens ne sont considérés comme spécimens travaillés que s’ils appartiennent clairement à l’une des catégories susmentionnées et peuvent être utilisés sans être sculptés, ouvragés ou transformés davantage ».

En este caso, una base para un mueble o un adorno dude unos 40 cm hecho con la pata de Loxodonta africana, el elefante de ese continente.

Los paragüeros, por su parte, rondan los 49 cm, poseen un círculo en metal (cobre, la mayoría de las veces) que rodea la abertura y su interior se encuentra forrado en latón para que no se arruine con el agua de lluvia. La pata del elefante asiático  (Elephas maximus) no está ausente de los catálogos y se ofrece, como los otros, a un precio relativamente bajo: alrededor de 200 euros. Las casas de remate los fechan en el siglo XIX y en los inicios del siglo XX: su historia, sin embargo, resta por hacerse a sabiendas que forma parte de esa industria ornamental que apelaba a las partes de animales como elemento decorativo o estructural.

Entre otras, eran producidos por la empresa del taxidermista británico Rowland Ward (1848–1912), dedicada también a las guías y trofeos de caza deportiva. Miembro de una familia de taxidermista y comerciantes de historia natural, su negocio estaba situado en el centro de Londres y alimentó la moda de los tinteros de pezuña de cebra, los ceniceros de tortugas, los muebles de asta y los paragüeros, apoya pies y tabaqueras de pie de elefante. En 1883 patentó una serie de diseños de lámparas, porta velas, tabaqueras y taburetes hechos con las pezuñas de los animales trofeo de la caza deportiva, advirtiendo sobre la mala calidad y el mal gusto de las imitaciones baratas de los competidores. 

Las patas de elefante hoy han pasado también al arte contemporáneo, una obra humana, tanto como las otras, pero que, en este caso, recurre al barro, a los pies y a las manos de Hervé Rousseau (1955-), un ceramista y escultor francés que desde 1981 trabaja en su taller en Boisbelle, commune d’Henrichemont (Cher), cerca del centro ceramista de La Borne. A partir de 1997, Rousseau comenzó a esculpir sus primeros “bloques” utilizando el torno y escarificados con las huellas del pulgar, la palma y el pie sobre la tierra “salvaje”, es decir ni lavada ni filtrada donde hunde su puño, su brazo y sus pies. En Sèvres, el museo ha adquirido dos patas de elefante realizadas en 2003. Se trata de dos jarrones de gres con restos de fuego y ceniza, dos formas troncocónicas estrechadas en la parte superior, fondo redondo y plano, tres bandas horizontales en la parte inferior, otra en la superior, dentada; en medio, barras inclinadas y verticales que, como las disecadas, tienen alrededor de 40 cm de altura.

El futuro de las patas de elefante disecadas parece dudoso, no solo por la ley sino porque la sensibilidad contemporánea los rechaza con disgusto y culpa. En África, un continente donde reina la controversia entre la prohibición y la matanza regulada de las poblaciones de elefantes, las cosas no están tan claras: en mayo de 2019,  los mandatarios de Namibia, Zambia y Zimbabue se reunieron en Botsuana y allí, su anfitrión, el presidente Mokgweetsi Masisi, les obsequió con un taburete a cada uno, una provocación a sus pares europeos y una celebración de cómo, un objeto creado por el comercio colonial, puede transformarse en el símbolo de la resistencia a adoptar los criterios elaborados en otras geografías.

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Recovery of Fragments in the Salvador Cabinet

By Neus Ibáñez, Museu Ciencies Naturals Barcelona (Institut Botanic de Barcelona)

Illustration from the Scientific Miscellany of Josep Bolló (1717) showing the meteorite fall seen from Barcelona (Biblioteca de la Universitat de Barcelona, Ms 95).

On Christmas Day 1704, at 17 h (UT), a meteorite fell in Terrassa (about 25 km NW of Barcelona). The meteorite fall was seen and heard by many people over an area of several hundred kilometres and it was recorded in numerous historical archives. Although it was believed that meteorite fragments were never preserved, a manuscript published recently (Llorca et al., 2020) discusses the recent discovery of two fragments (49.8 and 33.7 g) of the Barcelona meteorite in the Salvador Cabinet collection (Botanic Institute of Barcelona). These fragments are among the oldest historical meteorites preserved in the world.

Engraving that illustrated the writing of Joan Solar about the Barcelona meteorite fall. A set of stones fall under a burning sky (Solar 1705).

The team of Botanic Institute of Barcelona and the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona found the meteorite fragments of the Salvador collection in a glass jar referenced as number 205 along with a small envelope with the annotation written in Catalan “n°205 Meteorite?” (n°205 Meteorit?). Inside the envelope, we discovered an old label glued to a piece of paper. The label, written in Catalan, is incomplete and the ink has lost density, but it is still possible to read:

“Stone that fell from […]in[…]1704” (Pe[d]ra [que ca]ygué d’un […]u es[…] en[…]y 1704).” The whole set is currently catalogued in the Salvador collection: reference Salv-8355.

Fragments of the Barcelona meteorite with their corresponding associated label, in the original glass jar in which they were found in the Salvador Cabinet collection (Salv-8355).

Nothing is known about how the meteorite fragments reached the Salvador’s family collection. In 1710, Joan Salvador i Riera (1683–1726) (the most important member in the family) accompanied the protophysician of Catalonia on a visit to apothecaries from different cities in Catalonia. One of them being Terrassa (Jordi, 1982) where they visited at least three apothecaries. Therefore, we can hypothesize that someone from the Terrassa apothecaries could have been in possession of some fragments of the Barcelona meteorite and gave them to Joan Salvador. The small envelope and its annotation could be dated near 1938, when the Salvador Cabinet was acquired by the Botanic Institute of Barcelona. Pius Font i Quer (1888–1964), the founder of this institution, rescued this collection abandoned for more than a century in a farmhouse thanks to a decree of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Ibáñez, 2006). Probably, the glue used to fix the piece of paper also dated from this time. The label, which could date from the 18th century, is originally from the Salvador family, but it does not seem to have been handwritten by Joan Salvador; perhaps an amanuensis transcribed the original data. The jar is made of mouth-blown glass, the traditional method used in the 18th century.

Analysis of the label found in the glass jar where the meteorite fragments were preserved for more than three centuries. The green line delimits the border of the old label and the red type corresponds to the digital reconstruction of the text.

This is a good example of how the archives can help us to interpret a label and give information about the specimen to catalogue.

References

Bolló J. 1717. Miscelánea científica ilustrada. Barcelona. p. 122

Camarasa J. M. 2018. Descripcions i noticies del gabinet Salvador en llibres de viatges, guies i altres documents impresos (1713–1895). Collectanea Botanica 37: e001.

Ibáñez N. 2006. Estudis sobre cinc herbaris històrics de l’Institut Botànic de Barcelona. Ph.D. thesis, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Jordi R. 1982. Visita de boticas en Cataluña a principios del siglo XVIII (16-3-1710/10-4-1710). Circular Farmaceutica 274:111–139.

Llorca, J., Campeny, M., Ibáñez, N., Allepuz, D., Camarasa, J.M. and Aurell-Garrido, J. (2020), The meteorite of Barcelona (1704): History, discovery, and classification. Meteorit Planet Sci, 55: 705-725. https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13455

Solar J. 1705. Juizio sobre el celeste señal que sucedió en el día 23. del mes de Noviembre deste presente Año 1705. que es la confirmación de aquel prodigioso Señal, que se vió en 25. de Deziembre de 1704. dia de la Natividad de Jesu-Christo Nuestro Señor, que tanto ha dado que discurrir á los curiosos. Barcelona: Impr. B. Giralt. p. 4

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La moda de los canastos de armadillo

Por Susana V. García, CONICET-Museo de La Plata

Entre las colecciones zoológicas del Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona se encuentra una canasta de armadillo, inventariada con el número MZB 99-1252. Fue donada en 1999, junto con otros especímenes zoológicos, y había sido comprada una década antes en un mercadillo de la ciudad. Este tipo de objeto, más frecuente en museos de curiosidades o de etnografía, fue aceptado en donación como un reservorio de datos genéticos. La canasta esta confeccionada con la coraza, la cabeza y la cola de un animal propio de Sudamérica: el llamado “peludo” en las pampas argentinas o “quirquincho grande” en las regiones andinas (Chaetophractus villosus). Este animal, se encuentra en Argentina, el “Gran Chaco” de Paraguay y Bolivia, y sur de Chile, y es una de las 22 especies que forman el orden de mamíferos conocidos como armadillos o tatúes (Cingulata) (Gallo, Superina y Abba, 2022). Los ejemplares disecados de armadillos o sus corazas y colas secas, fáciles de conservar y transportar, tienen una larga historia en los gabinetes y museos europeos desde principios del siglo XVI (Egmond y Mason, 1994, Podgorny, 2012). Recordemos, por ejemplo, que sesenta años después del arribo de Colón a América, se podían encontrar ejemplares en el mercado de Constantinopla según observó el naturalista francés Pierre Belon (Belon, 1588). La historia de estos ejemplares en diversas colecciones privadas – y luego museos estatales – remite, en gran medida, a las redes comerciales, las prácticas coleccionistas y las modas por nuevos objetos curiosos y coleccionables. Las “canastas de armadillo” ilustran estas interacciones.

Hacia el 1900 se generó una nueva industria alrededor de los armadillos: la confección de canastos que se vendieron como “curiosidades” y circularon alrededor del mundo. El negocio fue comenzado por inmigrantes europeos familiarizados en la preparación de cestos o pieles, buscando aplicar sus saberes a las materias primas que encontraban en América y tal vez inspirados en artefactos indígenas. En Texas se desarrolló una floreciente industria alrededor del armadillo de nueve bandas (Dasypus novemcinctus), un animal relativamente nuevo para la fauna texana, ya que comenzó a llegar al territorio norteamericano en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX ligado a la acción humana. La empresa más conocida fue la iniciada hacia 1898 por el migrante alemán, Charles Apelt, una década después de radicarse en Comfort, Texas (Smith y Doughty, 1984). Aplicando su experiencia en la manufactura de cestos, Apelt abrió una fábrica de canastas de armadillo en 1898, vendiendo más de 40.000 cestas en sus primeros 6 años en Estados Unidos y otras partes del mundo. Campesinos e indígenas de la frontera con México proveyeron miles de ejemplares para la fabricación de canastos y también para vender como mascotas (Newman, 1913). Tiempo después, la empresa pudo mantener y reproducir estos animales en cautiverio y formar una granja de armadillo. El negocio se extendió a la producción de lámparas y otros objetos decorativos con estos animales, así como a la provisión de ejemplares vivos para jardines zoológicos y laboratorios científicos (Smith y Doughty, 1984). La Apelt Armadillo Company and Farm, continuada por miembros de la familia estuvo activa por siete décadas. El negocio declinó a inicios de la década de 1970, aunque los cestos de armadillo siguieron circulando en las casas de objetos de arte, anticuarios y mercadillos.

Propaganda de la compañía Apelt Armadillo

El cesto conservado en el Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona, fabricado con una especie particular de Sudamérica que no se encuentra naturalmente en México ni Texas, nos muestra que este tipo de emprendimientos estuvo presente en otras partes del continente americano. En Buenos Aires, por ejemplo, un taxidermista italiano que arribó a la Argentina en 1894, se presentaba unos años después como “inventor y fabricante de canastos de armadillo”. Su negocio, al igual que el de otros taxidermistas de la época, abarcaba la preparación de las pieles de otros animales para distintos fines: alfombras, peletería, adornos y ejemplares embalsamados para las colecciones de estancieros, coleccionistas, colegios y museos. En esa época, la carne de armadillo, al igual que en otras partes de América, era un plato muy popular lo que era muy fácil conseguir cientos de ejemplares en el mercado de Buenos Aires (García, 2008). Hacia 1910, los canastos de armadillo junto con fotografías, pieles de jaguar y mates de calabaza, eran los pocos souvenirs locales que podían adquirir los turistas como recuerdo de la visita a la capital argentina, tal como relató el naturalista norteamericano William Jacob Holland, director del Museo Carnegie de Pittsburgh. Holland visitó la Argentina en 1912 para armar el calco del Diplodocus carneggi en el Museo de La Plata y se volvió con varios de esos canastos, después de varios días de buscar recuerdos locales:

“Pasé cierto tiempo tratando de reunir souvenirs. Al igual que en Bahía, en Buenos Aires eso me resultó difícil. Aunque en las tiendas se exhibía una gran cantidad de hermosos objetos de plata, bronce, cristalería, porcelana y artículos de lujo, que eran a la vez útiles y atractivos a la vista, todos ellos eran cosas hechas en Europa o Norteamérica, y podían comprarse mucho más baratos en Pittsburgh, o incluso en Nueva York. Un amigo que estaba empeñado en la misma tarea, me informó que todo lo que había logrado encontrar, que en cualquier sentido podría considerarse como característico del país, y por lo tanto adecuado para ser recuerdos de un viaje, eran fotografías, mates de calabazas, cestas de armadillo y pieles de jaguar. Había descubierto un lugar donde se vendían estas cosas y me guió hasta el lugar. Los pobres armadillos […] se venden en los mercados como alimento. […] El uso más curioso que se le da a estas pobres criaturas es convertir sus corazas en cestas. La boca es abierta y el extremo de la cola se introduce en ella, formando así el asa de la cesta, mientras que el caparazón hueco sirve de receptáculo. El caparazón está forrado de seda. Compré varios como recuerdo.”(Holland,1913).

Cesta de armadillo que se vendía en Buenos Aires en 1912 (Holland, 1913)

El comercio de canastos de armadillo continuó muy activo en la década de 1920, constituyendo parte de la industria “nacional” o regional de souvenirs de varios países americanos. Por esa época, cientos de armadillos eran capturados y preparados por indígenas del Chaco y los canastos se vendían en casas de taxidermia y de objetos de arte de Buenos Aires. También se producían en el Estado de São Paulo (Brasil), mientras abundaban en mercadillos de Berlín.  Queda para futuras investigaciones determinar hasta qué punto la moda por estos objetos promocionados en las exposiciones internacionales y catálogos, cuya fabricación a gran escala fue emprendida por inmigrantes europeos en América, fomentó una nueva artesanía entre las comunidades indígenas, vendida como recuerdo a los turistas o como objetos etnográficos para los museos de la segunda parte del siglo XX. Actualmente estos canastos se pueden adquirir en internet como objetos vintage o curiosidades con un valor que puede llegar a ser cien veces más alto que en la década de 1920, cuando se ofrecían como regalos para navidad o souvenirs para viajeros.  Los canastos de armadillos constituyen un ejemplo más de las distintas capas de historias entrecruzadas, emprendimientos comerciales, circulación y modas que esconden las piezas de muchos museos.

Agradecimientos

Agradezco a Eulalia García Franquesa, Jefa de colecciones, y a Javier Quesada, Conservador de Vertebrados, del Museo Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona por la consulta y datos de cesta de armadillo. También a Agustín M. Abba, especialista en armadillos e investigador del CONICET (Argentina) por la determinación y la información sobre esta especie.

Referencias bibliográficas

BELON, Pierre, Les observations de plusieurs singularitez & choses memorables, trouuées en Grece, Asie, Iudée, Egypte, Arabie, & autres pays estranges, redigées en trois liures, Par Pierre Belon du Mans. Reueuz de nouueau & augmentez de figures. Paris : Guillaume Cauellat, 1588.

FLORIKE, Egmond  y MASON, Peter, “Armadillos in Unlikely Places. Some Unpublished Sixteenth-Century Sources for New World “Rezeptionsgeschichte” in Northern Europe”, Ibero-amerikanisches Archiv, vol. 20, n° 1/2 ,1994, pp. 3-52.

GALLO, Jorge A., SUPERINA, Mariella y ABBA, Agustín M., Chaetophractus villosus (Xenarthra, Chlamyphoridae), Mammalian Species, vol. 54, n° 1014, 2022, pp:186–201.

GARCÍA, Susana V. “Especies locales, mercado y transporte en las investigaciones embriológicas: el estudio de la poliembrionía en armadillos a principios del siglo XX”,  História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, vol.15, n° 3, 2008, pp.697-717.

HOLLAND, W. To the River Plate and back: the narrative of a scientific mission to South America, with observations upon things seen and suggested, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1913.

NEWMAN, Horatio H. “The natural history of the nine-banded armadillo de Tejas”, American Naturalist, vol.47, n° 561, 1913, pp.513- 546.

PODGORNY, Irina. “Los conejos de calabaza”, en: El mundo atlántico y la modernidad americana, México: RGM. 2012, p. 222 – 237.

naturalis.fcnym.unlp.edu.ar/repositorio/_documentos/sipcyt/bfa004253.pdf

SMITH, Larry L. y DOUGHTY, Robin W., The Amazing Armadillo: Geography of a Folk Critter, University of Texas Press, 1984.

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Armadillo basket fashion

By Susana V. García, CONICET-Museo de La Plata

Among the zoological collections of the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, there is an armadillo basket, inventoried with the number MZB 99-1252. It was donated in 1999, along with other zoological specimens, and had been purchased a decade earlier at a street market in the city. This type of object, more frequently found in ethnographic, antiquities or curiosity museums, was accepted as a donation as a reservoir of genetic data. This basket is made from the armour, head and tail of an animal native to South America: the large hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus),  called “peludo” in the Argentine pampas or “quirquincho grande” in other regions. This animal is found in Argentina (with a wide distribution), the “Gran Chaco” of Bolivia and Paraguay, and southern Chile.  It is one of 22 species of the order of mammals known as armadillos or tatúes(Cingulata) (Gallo, Superina y Abba, 2022). Dried armadillo carapaces and tails or stuffed specimens, easy to preserve and transport, have a long history in European cabinets and museums since the early 16th century (Egmond y Mason, 1994, Podgorny, 2012). It is interesting to mention, for example, that sixty years after Columbus’ arrival in America, armadillos could be found in the Constantinople market, as the French naturalist Pierre Belon observed (Belon, 1588). The history of these specimens in various private collections – and later state museums – is in large part a reflection of trade networks, collecting practices and fashions for new curiosities and collectibles. The “armadillo baskets” illustrate these interactions.

Around 1900 a new industry was generated around armadillos: the making of baskets. These were sold as “curiosities” or souvenirs and circulated around the world. The business was started by European immigrants with experience in the preparation of baskets or skins, seeking to apply their knowledge to the raw materials they found in America and perhaps inspired by indigenous artefacts. In Texas, a flourishing industry has developed around the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), a relatively new animal to the Texas fauna, which began to arrive in North America in the second half of the 19th century linked to human activity. The best-known enterprise was started by German immigrant Charles Apelt, a decade after he settled in Comfort, Texas. Applying his knowledge of basket making, Charles Apelt opened an armadillo basket factory in 1898, selling over 40,000 baskets in his first 6 years in the United States and other parts of the world (Smith y Doughty, 1984). Farmers and indigenous people from the Mexican border provided thousands of specimens for basket making and also for sale as pets (Newman, 1913). Some time later, the Apelt company was able to keep and breed these animals in captivity and form an armadillo farm. The business extended to the production of lamps and other decorative objects with these animals, as well as the supply of live specimens for zoological gardens and scientific laboratories (Smith y Doughty, 1984). The Apelt Armadillo Company and Farm, continued by family members, was active for around seven decades. The business declined in the early 1970s, although armadillo baskets continued to circulate in antique and curiosity shops and street markets.

Advertising of Apelt Armadillo Company

The basket preserved in the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, made from a particular South American species not found naturally in Mexico or Texas, shows that this type of enterprise was present in other parts of the American continent. In Buenos Aires, for example, an Italian taxidermist who arrived in Argentina in 1894, presented himself a few years later as “inventor and manufacturer of armadillo baskets”. His business, like that of other taxidermists of the time, included the preparation of animal skins for various purposes: carpets, fur, ornaments for ladies and gentlemen, and embalmed specimens for the collections of wealthy landowners, schools and museums. At that time, armadillo meat, as in other parts of America, was a very popular dish and hundreds of specimens were readily available in the Buenos Aires market (García, 2008). By 1910, armadillo baskets, along with photographs, jaguar skins and mate-gourds, were the few local souvenirs that travellers could buy in Buenos Aires, as American naturalist William Jacob Holland, director of the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, recounted. Holland visited Argentina in 1912 to assemble the Diplodocus carneggi cast in the La Plata Museum and returned with several armadillo baskets, after several days of searching for local souvenirs:

“A certain amount of time was spent in endeavouring to pick up souvenirs. As at Bahia, so in Buenos Aires, I found this difficult. While there was displayed in the shops an abundance of beautiful silverware, bronzes, glassware, porcelain, and articles de luxe, which were at once useful and attractive to the eye, all of these were things made in Europe or North America, and could be purchased far more cheaply in Pittsburgh, or even in New York. A friend bent upon the same errand, who had the same thought, informed me that all which he had succeeded in finding, which in any sense might be regarded as characteristic of the country, and therefore fit to be souvenirs of a visit, were photographs, mate-gourds, armadillo-baskets, and jaguar-skins. He had discovered a place where these things were for sale, and he guided me to the spot. The poor little armadillos […] are sold in the markets as food. […] The most curious use to which these poor creatures are put is to convert their carapaces into baskets. The mouth is opened and the end of the tail is inserted into it, thus forming the handle of the basket, while the hollow carapace serves as a receptacle. The carapace is lined with silk. I bought several as souvenirs” (Holland,1913).

Hairy Armadillo basket sold in Buenos Aires in 1912 (Holland, 1913)

The trade in armadillo baskets continued to be very active in the 1920s, constituting part of the “national” or regional souvenir industry of several American countries. At that time, hundreds of armadillos were captured and prepared by indigenous people from the Chaco and the baskets were sold in taxidermy and art object shops in Buenos Aires. They were also produced in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, while they were also offered at street markets in Berlin.  It remains for future research to determine to what extent the fashion for these objects promoted in international exhibitions and catalogues, whose large-scale manufacture was undertaken by European immigrants in America, fostered a new craftsmanship among indigenous communities, sold as souvenirs to tourists or as ethnographic objects for museums in the second part of the 20th century. Today these baskets can be purchased on the internet as vintage objects or curiosities with a value that can be a hundred times higher than in the 1920s, when they were offered as Christmas gifts or as souvenirs to travellers.  Armadillo baskets are an example of the many layers of intertwined stories, commercial ventures, movements and fashions that lie behind the objects of many museums.

Acknowledgments

I am gratful to Eulalia García Franquesa, Head of Collections, and Javier Quesada, Curator of Vertebrates, of the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona for the consultation and data on this piece. I thank Agustín M. Abba, Armadillo specialist and researcher at CONICET (Argentina), for this determination and the information on this species.

Bibliographic references

BELON, Pierre, Les observations de plusieurs singularitez & choses memorables, trouuées en Grece, Asie, Iudée, Egypte, Arabie, & autres pays estranges, redigées en trois liures, Par Pierre Belon du Mans. Reueuz de nouueau & augmentez de figures. Paris : Guillaume Cauellat, 1588.

FLORIKE, Egmond and MASON, Peter, “Armadillos in Unlikely Places. Some Unpublished Sixteenth-Century Sources for New World “Rezeptionsgeschichte” in Northern Europe”, Ibero-amerikanisches Archiv, vol. 20, n° 1/2, 1994, pp. 3-52.

GALLO, Jorge A., SUPERINA, Mariella and ABBA, Agustín M., Chaetophractus villosus (Xenarthra, Chlamyphoridae), Mammalian Species, vol. 54, n° 1014, 2022, pp:186–201.

GARCÍA, Susana V. “Especies locales, mercado y transporte en las investigaciones embriológicas: el estudio de la poliembrionía en armadillos a principios del siglo XX”,  História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, vol.15, n°3, 2008, pp.697-717.

HOLLAND, W. To the River Plate and back: the narrative of a scientific mission to South America, with observations upon things seen and suggested, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1913.

NEWMAN, Horatio H. “The natural history of the nine-banded armadillo de Tejas”,.American Naturalist, vol. 47, n° 561, 1913, pp.513- 546..

PODGORNY,  Irina. “Los conejos de calabaza”, en: El mundo atlántico y la modernidad americana, México: RGM. 2012, p. 222 – 237.

naturalis.fcnym.unlp.edu.ar/repositorio/documentos/sipcyt/bfa004253.pdf

SMITH, Larry L. and DOUGHTY, Robin W., The Amazing Armadillo: Geography of a Folk Critter, University of Texas Press, 1984.

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Scientific police: an example of the technological transfer between the two sides of the Atlantic

By Silvano Montaldo, Cesare Lombroso Museum of Criminal Anthropology, University of Turin

The circulation of the technical knowledge of the scientific police is an example of the technological transfer between the two sides of the Atlantic, and of the existing tensions in the field of positivist criminology. The important body of letters received by Juan Vucetich (La Plata, Museo Policial) from European correspondents is an eloquent demonstration of this. His personal identification system, which replaced Bertillon’s anthropometric measurements with the collection of fingerprints, was adopted by the Italian forensic police after it spread to Latin America. In this process, what was weakened was the anthropological perspective of Lombrosian criminology, with its baggage of signs of degeneration and atavism, while a new perspective of institutionalization of scientific knowledge by the state was opening up.

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An iridescent pendant made with beetle’s elytra

By Adriana E. MarvaldiCONICET/División Entomología del Museo de La Plata, Argentina

The beetles, insects of the Order Coleoptera, are distinguished by the presence of elytra. This is the fundamental feature that defines the largest and most diverse group of animals on Earth (Lawrence and Newton 1982). The elytra (singular, elytron) are the hardened, sclerotized fore wings, evolutionarily modified as a protective case that covers the hind wings (those used to fly) and dorsum of the abdomen when at rest. The beetles and their elytra come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. Many species of beetles, from several different families, look like jewels because of their iridescent structural colors, a visual phenomenon resulting from the interaction of light with the nanostructures of the integument that changes color according to the viewing angle (Seago et al. 2009; Saranathan et al. 2015). No wonder that in so many cultures, of all times and all around the world, iridescent beetles and their parts are integrated into ornaments full of beauty and symbolism.

For an entomologist, with a special interest in beetles, a set of dozens of sparkling, green elytra assembled into a strip immediately catches the eye. An object like this was noticed, rather unexpectedly, leaning on a shelf of the archaeological-ethnographic collection of the Americas at BASA-Museum of Bonn. The cultural and natural environments from which it comes were intriguing and to figure them out would require some research. At first sight, it had no tag attached, but a closer look revealed the inventory information written in the underside of one elytron (BASA Inv.-No. 5724). In the Museum´s inventory Book the number led to a succinct description of the object: “Ketteanhänger aus Insekten Panzern mit Federn (rot/gelb) am Ende” [Chain pendant made of insect armor with feathers (red/yellow) at the end]. In the last column, the object is attributed, with doubts, to the collection “Jankausky (?)”.

Located on another shelf, a few steps away from the drawer holding the pendant made of beetle’s elytra, there it was an entire beetle exemplar, exhibited as an object with an inventory tag attached to one of its legs (BASA Inv. –No. Hm35). A giant insect of more than 60 mm long and 25 mm wide, with iridescent integument showing hues from green to purple particularly in the elytra. Its shape and general aspect indicated with certainty its membership to the Buprestids, a family of Coleoptera which are commonly called “jewel beetles”. Observation of additional details suggests it is the species Euchroma gigantean (Linnaeus), a wood borer beetle inhabiting the Neotropical rain forests, and considered the largest buprestid of South America. Without further collection data, a direct link of this “object” with the previous one could not be established. But it was tempting to do an association because, as it will be explained later, beetles of this species are among the main sources of the gleaming elements that people from the Amazonian lowlands use to create ornaments.

The characteristics observed in object No. 5724 indicate it is one of the typical ear pendants made by the Jivaroan people (e.g., Shuar and Achuar) from the Amazon lowlands between Ecuador and Peru (Rivers 2003; AMNH 2017). People from the Amazon Basin are known for their variety of personal ornaments that they wear for special occasions, made with materials taken from their natural environment, like colorful bird feathers, little stones, seeds, plant fibers, and iridescent beetle elytra. The wing covers (elytra) of two different beetles have been documented to be used in the elaboration of their ornaments: Euchroma gigantean (Linnaeus) from the family Buprestidae and Chrysophora chysochlora (Latreille) from the Scarabaeidae. In object No. 5724 from BASA, the elytra from its upper part are longitudinally striate, greenish shimmering purple and gold, and longer and more flat than the elytra strung on the rest of the pendant, which are shorter, apically more curved, and strikingly sparkling green colored with a thickly punctuated texture. The former elytra are most likely from buprestids, and the latter, from scarabs.

This was a short story about a lucky day for a coleopterist visiting an ethnographic collection. In the end, it looks like the elytra are meant to provide beauty and protection, not only to the beetles.

References

AMNH. 2017. Beetle-Wing Body Art: Shuar Ear Ornaments. https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/from-the-collections-posts/beetle-wing-body-art-shuar-ear-ornaments.

Lawrence, J F & Newton, Jr. AF. 1982. Evolution and Classification of Beetles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 13 (1): 261-290.

Rivers, VZ. 2003. Emeralds on wings: Jewel beetles in textiles and adornment. Pp. 163-174. In Motte-Florace, E. and Thomas, J. M. C. (Eds.) Les ‘insectes’ dans la tradition orale/ Insects in oral literature and traditions. Paris: Peeters.

Saranathan V, Seago AE, Sandy A, Narayanan S, Mochrie SGJ, Dufresne ER, Cao H, Osuji CO, Prum RO. 2015. Structural diversity of arthropod biophotonic nanostructures spans amphiphilic phase-space. Nano Lett. 15, 3735-3742 (doi:10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b00201).

Seago AE, Brady P, Vigneron J-P, Schultz TD. 2009. Gold bugs and beyond: a review of iridescence and structural colour mechanisms in beetles (Coleoptera). J. R. Soc. Interface 6, S165-S184 (doi:10.1098/rsif.2008.0354.focus).

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Traveling skulls. About some skulls and casts from France kept in the storerooms of the Museum of La Plata

By Nathalie Richard, Le Mans Université

The historiography of science museums has mostly emphasized the circulation of specimens from the Souths to the Nords or from the peripheries to the centres. The skulls and casts kept in the collections of the anthropology section of the Museum of La Plata (Argentina) tell a more intricate story.

Certainly, many specimens related to the history of physical anthropology were collected in Argentina and sent to museums in the Western world, for example to the Natural History Museum in Paris or to the Anthropology Society of Paris. But other specimens traveled in the other direction. The catalogue of the anthropology section of the Museum of La Plata, compiled by the director of this section, Robert Lehmann-Nitsche, in 1911, demonstrates this, as well as specimens currently kept in the reserves.

Among these specimens from Europe, many belonged to the collection of Francisco Pascasio Moreno (1852-1919), a wealthy amateur who had built an important collection, kept in a family estate. He donated this collection to the Province of Buenos Aires, allowing the foundation, in 1878, of the Anthropological and Archaeological Museum of the Province, of which he was appointed curator. Moreno travelled to Paris in 1880-1881, where he continued his anthropological research and strengthened his contacts with French scholars, for example with Paul Broca (1824-1880). The Société d’anthropologie de Paris (1859), of which he was the founder, was then an important center for Western physical anthropology. The methods, models of interpretation and practices it promoted served as an inspiration for the creation of many similar associations in Europe and North America. Back in Argentina, Moreno devoted his efforts to the creation of a national museum of which his anthropological museum would be the core. This project failed, and another museum in the city of Buenos Aires became the national museum, but Moreno’s efforts led to the foundation of the Provincial Museum of La Plata, which was gradually established from 1884 onwards in the new provincial capital, where his collections were transferred (see bibliography).

These collections reflected Moreno’s scholarly explorations in Argentina, but also his contacts with scientists and merchants, both locally and abroad. It is thus not surprising that the anthropological series gathered by Moreno contained not only American but also French and European remains. Paul Broca, the Society and its Laboratory of Anthropology founded in 1867 were important providers. Thus, the Museum of La Plata now possesses, among others, original French skulls from the 17th century collected by Broca in Parisian cemeteries.

Fig. 1. Photograph by Nathalie Richard.

Among the skulls from France kept at the La Plata Museum, some have traveled more than others, since they have crossed the Atlantic twice. This is the case, for example, of the skull numbered 1760 in the 1911 catalog (Fig. 1). This cast from the Museum of Natural History in Paris demonstrates the existence of exchanges in both directions between La Plata and Paris (also Lyon, since some series came from the Museum of Natural History in that city). It is an outcome of the relationship established between Moreno and the professor of anthropology of the Paris Museum, Armand de Quatrefages. In 1874, the former sent five skulls to Paris. In return, Quatrefages sent him twelve casts of American busts and skulls (from the north and south) taken from the Parisian collections for his collection, which was still private at that time (Farro 2009). This skull bears an inscription that tells more about its history: “Skull of the ancient inhabitants of the coasts of Peru found in the huacas or tombs of the ruins of the temple of Pachacamac, situated 6 leagues south of Lima – given by Mr. J. Deville”. This important site was excavated in a more systematic way from the end of the 19th century onward, but it was explored by curious and collectors well before this date. In France for example, Joseph Dombey brought back an important collection of ethnographic and archaeological objects of Peru, for part coming from this site in 1785, and gave it to the Royal Cabinet in 1786. From this time on, a somewhat imprecise geographical area called “Peru”, associated with a somewhat vague “Inca” civilization, became an object of curiosity and covetousness among French amateurs of archaeology and from institutions. Numerous objects from this region thus entered private and public collections, through the agency of scholars, often commissioned by institutions, but also through soldiers and merchants (Riviale, 1996). The skull #1760 is the result of this history, while the arrival of its cast in Argentina is related to the will of the Argentinian amateur Moreno to establish his reputation and a dialogue with more famous professional European scholars. Later the transfer of the cast from the private collection to the public museum was the result of Moreno’s strategy to establish his influence on the natural, archaeological and ethnographic sciences in Argentina through the foundation of a museum that would be under his control.

Thus, the French skulls preserved in the Museum of La Plata tell us of connections between scholars, of histories of private and public collections, and of strategies of distinction and reputation based on these collections (for a comparison, Corsi 2008). They also point to a common territory in which scientific methods (anthropometry) and theoretical interpretative frameworks were shared, that of the physical anthropology of the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. This anthropology, for which Paris was one of the main centers, used “race” as its central concept and considered skulls to be the most important part of the skeleton for assessing anatomical differences between human groups. Based on the identification of what they called “racial types”, the scientists of the time reconstructed the population histories of the various regions of the globe, including the Americas. Moreno, his collections, and later the collections of the Museum of La Plata, participated in this common space in which specimens circulated as much as ideas, and in both directions.

Selected bibliography

Pietro Corsi, Fossils and Reputations. A Scientific Correspondence: Pisa, Paris, London, 1853–1857, Pisa, Edizioni Plus – Pisa University Press, 2008.

Máximo Farro, La formación del Museo de La Plata. Coleccionistas, comerciantes, estudiosos y naturalistas viajeros a nes del siglo XIX, Rosario, Prohistoria, 2009.

Irina Podgorny, “Du Musée au Panthéon en Argentine. Le destin des collections anthropologiques dans l’Argentine contemporaine », Politika, 2019, https://www.politika.io/fr/article/du-musee-au-pantheon-argentine

Irina Podgorny, Margaret Lopes, El desierto en una vitrina. Museos e historia natural en la Argentina, Mexico, Limusa, 2008 (2e éd., Rosario, Prohistoria, 2014)

Pascal Riviale, Un siècle d’archéologie française au Pérou (1821-1914), Paris, L’Harmattan, 1996 (traduction espagnole, https://books.openedition.org/ifea/3568 ).

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Des crânes voyageurs. A propos de quelques crânes et moulages venus de France conservés dans les réserves du Musée de La Plata

Par Nathalie Richard, Le Mans Université

L’historiographie des musées de sciences a surtout mis en exergue le mouvement des spécimens des suds vers les nords ou des périphéries vers les centres. Les crânes et moulages conservés dans les collections de la section d’anthropologie du Musée de La Plata (Argentine) racontent une histoire plus complexe.

Certes de nombreux spécimens liés à l’histoire de l’anthropologie physique ont été collectés en Argentine et ont été envoyés vers les musées du monde occidental, par exemple au Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Paris ou à la Société d’anthropologie de Paris. Mais d’autres spécimens ont voyagé dans l’autre sens. Le catalogue de la section d’anthropologie du Musée de La Plata, rédigé par le directeur de cette section, Robert Lehmann-Nitsche, en 1911 le démontre, de même que des pièces actuellement conservées dans les réserves.

Parmi ces spécimens provenant d’Europe, plusieurs appartenaient à la collection de Francisco Pascasio Moreno (1852-1919), riche amateur qui avait réuni dans une propriété familiale une importante collection dont il fit don à la Province de Buenos Aires, permettant la fondation, en 1878, du Musée anthropologique et archéologique de la Province dont il fut nommé conservateur. Moreno effectua un séjour à Paris en 1880-1881, où il poursuivit ses recherches anthropologiques et renforça ses contacts avec des savants européens, par exemple avec Paul Broca (1824-1880). La Société d’anthropologie de Paris (1859), dont il était le fondateur, était alors un important foyer de l’anthropologie physique occidentale. Les méthodes, les types d’interprétation et les pratiques qu’elle promouvait servirent d’inspiration pour la création de nombreuses associations similaires en Europe et en Amérique du nord. De retour en Argentine Moreno consacra ses efforts à la création d’un musée national dont son musée anthropologique serait le noyau. Ce projet échoua, et un autre musée de la ville de Buenos Aires devint musée national, mais les efforts de Moreno aboutirent à la fondation du Musée provincial de La Plata, inauguré progressivement à partir de 1884 dans la nouvelle capitale provinciale, où ses collections furent transférées (voir bibliographie).

Ces collections étaient le reflet des prospections savantes de Moreno en Argentine, mais aussi de ses contacts avec des scientifiques et des marchands, localement et au-delà des frontières. Aussi n’est-il pas étonnant que les séries anthropologiques rassemblées par Moreno aient contenu des vestiges humains américains, mais aussi français et européens. Paul Broca, la Société et son Laboratoire d’anthropologie fondé en 1867 étaient des pourvoyeurs importants. Aussi le Musée de La Plata possède-t-il, parmi d’autres, des crânes français originaux du XVIIe siècle collectés par Broca dans les cimetières parisiens.

Fig. 1. Photograph by Nathalie Richard.

Parmi les crânes venus de France du Musée de La Plata, certains ont plus voyagé que les autres, puisqu’ils ont traversé deux fois l’Atlantique. Tel est le cas, parmi d’autre, du crâne numéroté 1760 dans le catalogue de 1911 (Fig. 1). Ce moulage issu du Museum d’histoire naturelle de Paris manifeste l’existence d’échanges dans les deux sens entre La Plata et Paris (et également Lyon puisque des séries proviennent du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Lyon). Il est le produit de la relation établie entre Moreno et le professeur d’anthropologie du musée parisien, Armand de Quatrefages. En 1874, le premier envoie cinq crânes à Paris et en retour, Quatrefages lui adresse pour sa collection (qui est alors encore privée), douze moulages de bustes et de crânes américains (du nord et du sud) issus des collections parisiennes (voir Farro 2009). Ce crâne porte une inscription qui renseigne sur son histoire : « Crâne des anciens habitants des côtes du Pérou trouvé dans les huacas ou tombeaux des ruines du temple de Pachacamac à 6 lieues au sud de Lima – donné par M. J. Deville ». Ce site important a été fouillé de manière systématique à partir de la fin du XIXe siècle, mais il est exploré de manière ponctuelle par des curieux et des collectionneurs bien avant cette date. En France par exemple, Joseph Dombey a rapporté en 1785 une importante collection d’objets ethnographiques et archéologiques du Pérou, pour partie issus de ce site et donnés au Cabinet du roi en 1786. A partir de cette date, une zone géographique un peu imprécise appelée « Pérou », associée à la civilisation « Inca », fait l’objet de la curiosité et de la convoitise des amateurs français d’archéologie et des institutions. De nombreux objets de cette région arrivent ainsi dans des collections privées et publiques, par l’intermédiaire de savants, souvent missionnés par les institutions, mais aussi de militaires et de commerçants (Riviale, 1996). Le crâne numéro 1760 est le produit de cette histoire, tandis que l’arrivée de son moulage en Argentine est liée à la volonté de l’amateur argentin Moreno d’établir sa réputation et d’entrer en dialogue avec des savants professionnels européens plus reconnus que lui. Le transfert du moulage de la collection privée vers le musée public est quant à lui le résultat des stratégies de Moreno afin d’établir son influence sur les sciences naturelles, archéologiques et ethnographiques en Argentine grâce à la fondation d’un musée qui serait sous son contrôle.

Aussi les crânes français conservés au Musée de La Plata nous parlent-ils de contacts entre savants, de constructions de collections privées et publiques, de stratégie de prestige et de réputation fondées sur ces collections (pour une comparaison, voir Corsi 2008). Ils évoquent aussi un espace commun de méthodes scientifiques (l’anthropométrie) et de grilles d’interprétation théoriques, celui de l’anthropologie physique de la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle et des premières décennies du XXe siècle. Cette anthropologie, dont Paris est l’un des premiers foyers, fait de la « race » son concept central et du crâne la partie du squelette la plus importante pour qualifier anatomiquement les différences entre les groupes humains. A partir de l’identification de ce qu’ils appellent des « types raciaux », les savants d’alors reconstruisent l’histoire du peuplement des diverses régions du globe, dont les Amériques. Moreno, ses collections, puis les collections du Musée de La Plata, participent de cet espace communs dans lequel les spécimens circulent autant que les idées, et ce dans les deux sens.

Bibliographie indicative

Pietro Corsi, Fossils and Reputations. A Scientific Correspondence: Pisa, Paris, London, 1853–1857, Pisa: Edizioni Plus – Pisa University Press, 2008.

Máximo Farro, La formación del Museo de La Plata. Coleccionistas, comerciantes, estudiosos y naturalistas viajeros a nes del siglo XIX, Rosario, Prohistoria, 2009.

Irina Podgorny, “Du Musée au Panthéon en Argentine. Le destin des collections anthropologiques dans l’Argentine contemporaine », Politika, 2019, https://www.politika.io/fr/article/du-musee-au-pantheon-argentine

Irina Podgorny, Margaret Lopes, El desierto en una vitrina. Museos e historia natural en la Argentina, Mexico, Limusa, 2008 (2e éd., Rosario, Prohistoria, 2014)

Pascal Riviale, Un siècle d’archéologie française au Pérou (1821-1914), Paris, L’Harmattan, 1996 (traduction espagnole, https://books.openedition.org/ifea/3568 ).

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Sweating pots

By Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata, Argentina

This story begins in a warehouse of the FAMILLE Association, SOLIDARITÉ ET CULTURES located on the Boulevard de la Liberación in the city of Marseille. Or a little earlier, it is true, on a morning of torrential rain, impossible for a walk without a raincoat or protection of any kind, on a pause on that excursion that went in the direction of the Natural History Museum of the city. A journey – it was not known yet – marked by the administration of water.

Glazed container with the handle and the two holes in the upper section; the mouth to carry and the python – smaller – to drink. Photography: Adela Schäffner.

The Natural History Museum is located in the north wing of the magnificent Longchamps Palace, the twin wing of the one where, opposite, is the Museum of Fine Arts. It is a mansion that was inaugurated in 1869 to celebrate the end of the problems derived from the drought that devastated this Provençal port. Thanks to an engineering work that made it possible to transport the water from the Durance River to the homes of the people of Marseille, after more than 30 years of work, a complex network made up of 85 kilometers of channels and underground pipes managed to supply water to this city, where the sea ​​reigns but drinking water is lacking. For this reason, to commemorate this milestone, it was decided to build the Longchamps Palace at the end of the avenue of the same name in the upper reaches of the Les Cinq Avenues neighborhood. It was commissioned by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu (1829 – 1874) who designed it as a true ode to water, as reflected in the allegorical sculptures of fertility and abundance. This Baroque-inspired complex is made up of a majestic colonnade and a central fountain known as the Chateau d’eau or Water Castle. The fountain depicts a cart drawn by bulls that carries grapes and wheat and above it three female figures stand, a symbol of life, with falls and waterfalls whose noise made the rain of that day sound more terrible than it really was. Although by then, it did not matter much either: in Liberación, the solidarity association sold umbrellas for a couple of coins and, for the same price, a little further inside, you could get toys, clothes, antiques, books, pots and glassware. There were also many shelves full of ceramics, earthenware and porcelain of all kinds, colors and tastes, one of the many human perditions, a sign of sedentary life and a declared enemy of suitcases and air travel. Among the tidal wave of objects given to charity and awaiting their new owners, a jug stood out, a cylindrical vase, with a glazed finish, marbled in shades of creams and browns. Probably Provençal, apparently a bit old. With that vintage consisting of an umbrella and a jug under our arms, we returned to Cassis.

“What is this called in English?” – the English-speaking colleagues from the Camargo Foundation asked the next day. “Botijo” – answered the Wikipedia version in that language, confirming the Spanish origin of the object. (1) But, nevertheless, to the Francophones he said something else: “gargoulette”, a name that ratified, instead, its Mediterranean and Provençal stamp. The encyclopedia also called them cachucho, piporro, pirulo, peche and rallo, forgetting about “glass and ceramic”, a word that is now in disuse and invented in 1809 by Jean Fourmy, a potter from Paris. A word that is linked to the studies and experiments carried out in the early nineteenth century where the physics and chemistry of materials were combined with the large-scale production of earthenware and the possibility of mastering the technologies that guaranteed the cooling of liquids.

“YDROCÉRAME”, Fourmy’s neologism, was composed of two words of Greek origin: “Ydros” which referred to sweat, and keramos, to clay pots. This designated the family of glasses that sweated and any container of earth whose permeability enabled it to cool its contents thanks to the property of cooling by means of the transudation mechanism.

When the mineralogist and chemist Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) in 1844 published his Traité des arts céramiques ou Des poteries considérées dans leur histoire, leur pratique et leur théorie, he took up Fourmy’s classification but added an H and an explanation reminiscent of the distribution of plants according to the climatic zones of the globe: a Hydrocerame was a type of ceramic that could be found in climates where the lowest temperature oscillated by an average of 15 degrees but also where it could rise well beyond 30. This type of glasses had the property of lowering the temperature of the liquids stored there to about 8 degrees with respect to the environment. The name given by Fourmy served, as in geology and mineralogy, to summarize in a single word all the regional names and, in this way, show that it was a technology shared by different regions dominated by the same problem. From India to Andalusia, passing through Egypt and the torrid area of ​​the American continent, with details in the manufacture that marked its origin, all, however, shared one characteristic: they presented a large surface that favored rapid evaporation that cooled the water while avoiding to go to the gaseous state. The secret: the porosity of the paste, achieved by the addition of fine sand, fired ceramics, clay loams, low-temperature firing, the incorporation of substances later destroyed by firing. Among them, the salt that, when dissolved, left the paste full of small vesicles. The forms were as varied as the names used in the most distant geographies; singular in more than one case but always respecting the principle of extending the surface to achieve rapid evaporation of the water.

Spanish botijo. In Description méthodique du Musée Cerámique de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine de Sèvres. Pair MM. A. Brongniart et D. Riocreux. Paris. 1845. Pl. XXII, Fig. 2.

One of the first to break down the manufacture of these vessels had been the citizen Louis Lasteyrie who in 1797 published a memoir on the Spanish alcarrazas in the Journal des Mines, previously read in the French Philomatic Society. It was about those vessels that were manufactured in various regions of the neighboring country, mostly characterized by their grayish bank. Madrid supplied itself with them in Anduxar, Andalusia, a town that obtained the land to model them in the Tamasuro stream. According to Lasteyrie, it was a form imported by the Arabs and was still used in Egypt and other parts of Africa and Asia, the East Indies, Syria, Persia, China. On the other hand, they were unknown in Sicily and also in France. Lasteyre said:

“Despite the neighborhood and relations with Spain, no traveler has so far been in charge of spreading the procedures used in its manufacture of this element, the introduction of which would be extremely useful for our country, not only to cool off in hot weather but also for a health issue”.

As a result, Lasteyrie had been informed about the exact way used to make the alcazarras (2), he had also brought a few to exhibit them to his compatriots together with the samples of the land used, examples that Citizen Darcet analyzed chemically . As a result, it was found that the materials existed on French soil and that producing them would not be onerous.

Lasteyrie was not the only one to propose the import into France of the cooling methods used in other Mediterranean countries. The historian of science Patrice Bret, one of the scholars of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt (1798-1801), has shown that one of the technologies most observed by the French in that territory was precisely the one that allowed the locals to maintain fresh water in a climate as overwhelming as that of the African desert thanks to its storage in “bardaks” or “qollehs”. In Egypt, the mathematician and geometer Louis Costaz (1767-1842) devoted himself to studying its thermal characteristics, which he later presented in Paris in a debate at the Society for the promotion of national industry created in 1801. For his part, Pierre Rouyer ( 1769-1831), the expedition’s chief pharmacist, published a historical and chemical study of Egyptian ceramic arts highlighting “the advantages that the adoption of ceramics destined to cool water would bring for France”. Shortly after, in 1802, a naturalist would once again exhibit a Spanish alcazarra and an Egyptian bardaca for analysis by Parisian scientists. It would be in this context that Fourmy would invent the name “ydroceramics” to bring together all known forms of refrigerant glasses, launching into the manufacture of them.

Brongniart, meanwhile, with an applied geologist’s eye, dedicated himself to promoting the creation of the ceramic museum of the Sèvres porcelain factory by publishing his catalog in 1845 that included various shapes of sweating vessels from, in this case, Spain. Portugal and Egypt.

At the end of the 19th century the gargoulette was already part of the material culture of Provence, and although some claim it from local roots, this story that began on a rainy day seems to indicate that its spread coincides with the period of the great works of hydraulic engineering held by the Palais de Longchamps. Those that brought water to the houses of Marseille.

Notes:

1. Botijo: Porous clay pot used to hold water and drink from it. It has a handle at the top and has a mouth where it fills on one side and a drinking spout on the other side. The glazed jug, also called winter jug, is used today preferably as an object of decoration. (We have respected the words in italics as they were in the original) In Alfares y alfareros de España. By José Guerrero Martín. Ediciones del Serbal, Madrid, 1988, p. 279.

2. Alcazarra: Porous clay pot that, thanks to the evaporation of the water that seeps, cools the one that remains inside. José Guerrero Martín: ob. cit. 1988, p. 277.

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Circulation of algae in exsiccatae: James Lloyd’s collections

By Louise Couëffé, University of Angers

James Lloyd was an amateur botanist author of local floras in western France. He gathered an important herbarium from 1838 to 1895 and was in correspondence with several important botanists of this period, such as François Crépin (1830–1903).

James Lloyd, 1865. Gadeceau, “Notice sur les travaux et la vie de James Lloyd » in Annales de la Société académique de Nantes et du département de la Loire-Inférieure, vol. 7 sér.7, Nantes, Mellinet, 1896, p. 205.

James Lloyd was born in England in 1811. When he was six years old, he left England to live in France, in Thouaré near Nantes, where James’s mother, Elisa Lake, married M. Ranson. Very interested in music and horticulture, he begun to study botany on his own in Nantes in 1835, using De Candolle’s flora.

In 1844, on the basis of his herbaria and the plants sent by many amateurs of botany, he published a local flora (Flore de la Loire-Inférieure). In 1854, this flora was extended to western France with the Flore de l’Ouest de la France.

James Lloyd was very interested in algae. His library contained several books on algae, published by European specialists between 1818 and 1850. He probably collected his first algae with his stepfather, M. Ranson. He collected algae for exsiccatae.

Exsiccatae were part of the process of the commodification of sciences. They enabled botanists to gather plants from all over the world without travelling and to access types confirmed by specialists without going to national museums. Exsiccatae were a specific type of collection created at the end of the 18th century to increase the circulation of types of botanical specimens.

The exsiccata is a specific genre of scientific output between the herbaria and the book. It would be edited by a botanist who produced several identical herbaria, containing the same set of species. They were considered scientific references because plants’ names were confirmed by well-known botanists or because they contained descriptions and types of new species. Unlike books or scientific illustrations, exsiccatae contained real plants, presenting both the characteristics of the species and the idiosyncratic particularities of the specimen. They enabled more precise observations and comparisons. Below each plant, a printed label indicated the title of the collection and its author’s name, the name of the species, it’s author, and sometimes the place and date of collecting.


Muséum de sciences naturelles d’Angers. Fonds James Lloyd – Algues de l’Ouest de la France, n°209 – Gloiosiphonia capillaris Glam

James Lloyd contributed to the exsiccata Algues marines du Finistère edited in 1852 by two brothers, Pierre-Louis (1798–1871) and Hippolyte-Marie (1802–1871) Crouan, pharmacists from Brest. This exsiccata was published in 50 exemplars and contained 404 species of algae. Some of its content was collected by James Lloyd, who was at the same time making his own exsiccata, Algues de l’Ouest de la France, began in 1847.

This collection was composed of twenty-four volumes of herbaria and made on subscription: buyers had to pay before receiving it, partly to finance James Lloyd travels to gather algae. He collected 83 percent of the specimens published in this collection. Fourteen collectors took part in the project. Some of them were specialists of algae, such as Gustave Thuret and Edouard Bornet; others were amateurs or Lloyd’s friends.

Specimens were carefully collected: they had to be similar, collected at the same phase of development (flowers, fruits, etc.), with visible organs. To make the various exemplars of the exsiccatae, collectors had to pick up many specimens of the same species (sometimes 50, sometimes several hundreds). This was a problem for rare species: some of them were collected in different places in order to get enough specimens without damaging or threatening the presence of the species in the localities. It was the case for the Nytophyllim punctatum var. ocellatum collected in Belle-Ile and le Croisic, even if the number of specimens from le Croisic were finally sufficient.

This exsiccata was published in few exemplars, from 1847 to 1894. Some of them were bought by local amateurs (Bourgault-Ducoudray, Mme Mosneron du Pin, etc.); others were acquired by well-known botanists, such as Gustave Thuret. One teacher of botany at the University of Uppsala, Johan Erhard Areschoug (1811–1887), asked James Lloyd to send him an exemplar of the exsiccata, but no exemplar is conserved in Uppsala now. Nowadays, some of them are conserved at Harvard, Oxford, Paris, Autun, Nancy, and Montpellier. Those collections increased the circulation of specimens collected by amateurs.

Bibliography

DAYRAT B., Les botanistes et la flore de France, trois siècles de découvertes, Paris, Publications scientifiques du Muséum, 2003, pp. 407–416.

DIXON P.S., “Notes on important algal herbaria”, British Phycological Bulletin, 3(2), 1967, pp. 213–218.

LAMY D., « Le savoir botanique par les herbiers », Colloque « Voyages en botanique », 16 et 17 juin 2005, Besançon, en ligne sur www.livre-franchecomte.org, pp. 1–13.

LAMY D., « Les herbiers de plantes cryptogames : méthodes, emplois, perspectives » in PIERREL R. et J.-P. REDURON (ed), Les herbiers : un outil d’avenir. Tradition et modernité, Actes du colloque de Lyon, 20–22 novembre 2002, Villers-lès-Nancy, 2004, pp. 30–39.

ROUILLARD T., BAZAN S., et COUEFFE L., « L’exsiccata des Algues de l’Ouest de la France du botaniste nantais James Lloyd », Bulletin de la Société d’éetudes scientifiques de l’Anjou, 2019, pp. 153–181.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. III Lh-O, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, 1981, pp. 127–128.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. I A-G, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema,1976, pp. 569–570.