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“Lions and Tigers and Bears”: Natural History Illustration and Ephemera in the Library of Congress Yudin Collection

(The following is a post by Bethany Wages, 2016 Junior Fellow, with Barbara Dash, Rare Book Cataloger.)

The Library of Congress acquired the Yudin Collection from the Siberian bibliophile Gennadii Yudin (1840-1912) in 1906. It represents the largest personal Russian library in the United States and is the foundation of the Library’s Russian-language collections. This summer the European Division’s Junior Fellow, Bethany Wages, used Yudin’s original handwritten Russian-language card file, as well as the books themselves, to verify and correct the Library’s online records. Bethany’s work provides greater access to this collection renowned for its quality and variety. For the Junior Fellows’ annual display of notable Library materials, Bethany focused on ephemera relating to natural history, showcasing a number of wildlife illustrations found among Yudin’s 80,000 tomes. This blogpost is a shortened version of Bethany’s booklet from the 2016 Junior Fellow display, “Lions and Tigers and Bears.”

Brown bear from Anna Daragan’s “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849.”

Brown bear from Anna Daragan’s “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849.”

Tigers from F.-E. Guérin’s “Dictionnaire pittoresque d’histoire naturelle et des phénomènes de la nature” [Pictorial dictionary of natural history and natural phenomena].

Tigers from F.-E. Guérin’s “Dictionnaire pittoresque d’histoire naturelle et des phénomènes de la nature” [Pictorial dictionary of natural history and natural phenomena].

Lion from Anna Daragan’s “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849.”

Lion from Anna Daragan’s “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849.”

The Yudin collection’s “A Naturalist on the Amazon River (Натуралистъ на Амазонской рѣкѣ), 1865″ is an abridged Russian translation of the second edition of Henry Walter Bates’ popular two-volume, “The Naturalist on the River Amazons, a Record of Adventures, Habits of Animals, Sketches of Brazilian and Indian Life and Aspects of Nature under the Equator During Eleven Years of Travel,” first published in London in 1863. Bates (1825-1892) spent eleven years exploring the Amazon River and collected more than 8,000 new species, many of which are depicted in the work.

Plate from the Russian edition of “The Naturalist on the River Amazons,” depicting naturalist Bates encountering curl-crested toucans.

Plate from the Russian edition of “The Naturalist on the River Amazons,” depicting naturalist Bates encountering curl-crested toucans.

“A Naturalist on the Amazon River,” 1865.

“A Naturalist on the Amazon River, 1865.”

Another interesting item in the Yudin collection is “Hagelberg’s Relief Images of Animals with their Descriptions” (Рельефныя картинки животныхъ Гагельберга), 1880.

Relief images of animals by Hagelberg with their descriptions, compiled and edited by Dr. O.A. Grimm and Dr. E.K. Brandt. St. Petersburg, 1880.

Relief images of animals by Hagelberg with their descriptions, compiled and edited by Dr. O.A. Grimm and Dr. E.K. Brandt. St. Petersburg, 1880.

7 dragonfly embossed tile for brochure

Relief images of animals by Hagelberg with their descriptions, compiled and edited by Dr. O.A. Grimm and Dr. E.K. Brandt. St. Petersburg, 1880.

Wolff Hagelberg (1825-1896) was an innovative German publisher of postcards and novelty hold-to-light cards, which use die cuts to allow light to enhance images so that they are seen raised from the background pane. Hagelberg began his publication business in his birth city of Berlin and later opened branches in London and the United States. In 1890, he received a U.S. patent for hologram picture cards for children’s books. He is still esteemed today among rare postcard and Christmas card collectors. Several of his hold-to-light cards have been sold at auctions at prices upwards of three hundred dollars each.

G.V. Yudin with bookseller V.I. Klochkov, 1890. From a 1999 facsimile postcard in the Library’s collections.

G.V. Yudin with bookseller V.I. Klochkov, 1890. From a 1999 facsimile postcard in the Library’s collections.

This volume focuses on descriptions of invertebrates and insects from all over the world. What makes this work special are the full-color, relief images, including depictions of spiders, caterpillars, butterflies, scorpions, and even sea creatures like starfish and jellyfish. The images are printed on sheets of pull-apart cardboard squares.

The white “Klochkov label” found in the upper left corner of the inside of the cover is one indication that the work belongs to the Yudin Collection. Yudin employed Vasilii I. Klochkov, an antiquarian dealer (pictured here with Yudin), to acquire books for his collection. Klochkov marked the books he sold with tickets and labels in various shapes, sizes and colors, many including beautiful illustrations and all bearing his company name.

Klochkov labels from the Yudin collection.

Klochkov labels from the Yudin collection.

The Yudin Collection contains works in an array of languages, including many French items. A fine example is “Dictionnaire pittoresque d’histoire naturelle, 1834-1840.” It is a nine-volume French dictionary of natural history, including three supplements filled with full-color plates. The set was created under the direction of F.E. Guérin (1799-1874), an entomologist and member of the Society of Natural History of Paris, who authored several illustrated works on the animal kingdom.

An octopus and a sea snail from “Dictionnaire pittoresque d’histoire naturelle et des phénomènes de la nature” [Pictorial dictionary of natural history and natural phenomena].

An octopus and a sea snail from “Dictionnaire pittoresque d’histoire naturelle et des phénomènes de la nature” [Pictorial dictionary of natural history and natural phenomena].

Yudin Collection identifier: a shelf label that states “from the books of Gennadii Vasilevich Yudin. No 33.”

Yudin Collection identifier: a shelf label that states “from the books of Gennadii Vasilevich Yudin. No 33.”

The set may be identified as a part of the Yudin Collection by Yudin’s blind stamp (ю), located in the bottom right corner of the first page of each of the atlases and on page 13 of the first volume of each of the nine volumes.

Anna Balugiansky Daragan (1806-1877), the daughter of the rector of St. Petersburg University, wrote a book on natural history for children that features an illustration for each animal entry: “Natural History of Animals Told for Children” (Естественная исторія животных), 1849. It remains in its original red cloth cover with gilt floral decorations. For the purpose of instruction, Daragan included a folded table of animal classification. A cream-colored Yudin ticket on the inside of the front cover identifies this book as part of the Yudin Collection.

Illustrated title page from “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849,” depicting a plethora of animals.

Illustrated title page from “Natural History of Animals Told for Children (Естественная исторія животных), 1849,” depicting a plethora of animals.

More information on the Yudin Collection may be found online at:

The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress
A Visionary Acquisition: The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress
So Ample a Collection, So Well Balanced: The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress
Selected Special Collections: Yudin Collection

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