16 November 2006

Rossmässler's Iconographie


In 1835, E. A. Rossmässler, one of the best known malacologists of the 19th century, started publishing a series of volumes under the long title Iconographie der Land- und Süsswasser-Mollusken mit vorzüglicher Berücksichtigung der europäischen noch nicht abgebildeten Arten. If I am translating it correctly, the title means Iconography of land and freshwater mollusks with principal consideration of not yet pictured European species.

Around 1877, another German malacologist, W. Kobelt took over and continued the publication of the Iconographie until the early 20th century.

Because of its age, the Iconographie is not an essential book to have anymore. But, mostly because Rossmässler and Kobelt described several new species on its pages, it occasionally becomes useful (even necessary) to consult it.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, in the library of the Delaware Museum of Natural History last October when I discovered a complete set of the Iconographie. Photocopying or photographing every single page would have been too time consuming. Instead, I decided to photograph only the plates for land snails. Luckily, they had a nice copy stand complete with lights that made the job quite easy.

Of course, one problem with using a book as old as the Iconographie is that the names of most, if not all, species have changed so many times since the 19th century that one needs to consult synonymies to figure out for certain which species is which. Here is a detail from one of the plates showing 2 common European species. Number 322 Pupa granum is now Granopupa granum, whilst No. 327 Pupa umbilicata is Lauria cylindracea.


In October, I had time to photograph the plates in only 4 of the volumes. The next time I am at DMNH I hope to do more.


Alessandro said...

IO sto cercando le tavole del Rossmassler da molto tempo e sarei ben felice di poterle avere, sono contento che tu abbia tale possibilità e sarei contento tu potessi condividere le tavole con chi ne è interessato
Alessandro Margelli


Alessandro: I don't understand Italian. Please post your comment in English (or Turkish).