A little Halloween treat from the Library: Creepy Crawlies in print and on the loose in Special Collections
Does this tarantula fulfill the definition of creepy – ‘experiencing a repugnant tingling sensation’? Or an aesthetic delight?
These magnificent engravings of spiders come from Natural History volume five in the Cyclopaedia or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Science and Literature. Abraham Rees, Presbyterian minister and educator, produced this Encyclopedia in 45 volumes between 1802 and 1820. On the title page of the Cyclopaedia, Rees’ 100 contributors are qualified with the “assistance from eminent professional gentlemen” and “illustrated by most distinguished artists”.
18th Century ‘encyclopedists’ developed the modern idea of recording and widely distributing knowledge as distinct from only publishing facts. The still familiar Encyclopedia Britannica was first published between 1768 and 1771.
Rees’ Cyclopedia was noted for its high quality of illustrations. And we can still enjoy the beauty of nature through these 19th century engravings … creep-ing spiders or … beetles.
Karren Elsbernd – Library Assistant for Archives and Digital Collections