Friday, March 31, 2017

The 1883 Botanical Project

I was fortunate several years ago to acquire a huge Botanical Collection from 1883 from a Private Individual who had been related to the Man who Created them.  I J'Adore Botanicals and it's fine to get nice Prints or Etchings of them, but even better to get the Real Deal pressed Plants categorized and from 134 Years ago!!! 

There are well over 200 Specimen Pages in the Binder, but I had always intended to frame some and hang them on a few of my Home's Walls.   Deciding which Dozen or so would be chosen was an agonizing decision making Process since each is Unique and Beautifully done.  I finally got my Dozen Favs together for the beginning of The 1883 Botanical Project, long overdue.

There were numerous reasons it was long overdue, The Big Move... deciding which Simple Frames I'd use since The Botanical is the Star of the Show so I didn't want a Fancy Frame competing with it... finding enough of the right sized Frames once I decided which basic Floating Frame I wanted... going to several 'Michael's' Stores to procure enough of said Frames over several Months!

Each Botanical had been stapled into it's protective sleeve by the Original Family whose Great Grandfather Created the The Herbarium Collection.   His Name was Dr. William A. Tope and all of the Specimens were Collected in the Spring of 1883.  I can't remember which State, since I bought it from the Great Grandchild who lived out of State and was Selling it.  It may or may not have been from the State it was shipped from?

At the time I didn't Care since I was just Jazzed to get it, I'd been looking for Antique Botanical Specimens for years and they were usually too spendy and typically came out of Europe.   I paid less for this extensive Collection than most that only offered a half dozen Antique Specimens from Europe, so Color me Happy for getting such an incredible Bargain!  And from a Private Collection that had remained in the same Family from it's inception 134 years ago!

They were on a variety of Hues of Paper and so in choosing my Dozen to hang, I tried to select a variety of the background Papers to add Interest to the grouping.   Botany has always been Fascinating to me, the Scientific Study of Plants, including their physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification and economic importance is Intriguing and very important Work.

I wanted the matting to be very plain too and a simple Grey Cardboard looked nice, I mounted each Specimen with some of my Favorite Tim Holtz Washi Tissue Tape that has Butterfly Specimens printed on it.   Washi Tape doesn't damage things and I just Love it and use it a lot for a variety of Purposes.  I try to find Washi Tape that has Graphics I am drawn to as well, Tim Holtz Line of Washi Tapes is my absolute Fav Graphics.

I was only able, thus far, to procure 10 Frames of the size I needed, after exhausting every 'Michael's' Store Inventory in the West Valley!   I'm hopeful that the next time I'm in the East Valley I might pick up at least 4-6 more to finalize my 1883 Botanical Project.   Until I get the entire Dozen for this Room I'm not going to hang them yet.  A Smaller grouping will go in another Room.

And of coarse the balance of the Specimens will remain in their Binder, which I keep here in the Library Room.   I don't know yet how many I will eventually Frame and Display in various Rooms of New Villa Boheme', it seems a shame not to have them visible to Enjoy daily and better protected in Frames.

If we don't peruse the Binder too much they are protected in there just fine.  But bending such Old and Fragile Paper and Dried Plants can cause damage, so I'd like to Frame more of them eventually.   There is also a hand written Book that Categorizes all of the Specimens.

The Beautiful Penmanship of a Century and almost a half ago is in itself quite a Lovely Collection of Antique Ephemera.   This small Hand-Made and Hand-Written Book was an addition not often found when you buy Antique Botanicals that aren't a complete Collection.

The painstaking Work that went into Collecting all of these Specimens, Researching, Categorizing and Mounting them, Hand-Writing all of the Labeling of them and then Creating a Manual for the entire Collection was indeed a Labor of Love!  One that I want to Share, in part, to anyone who Visits our Home and will see those I've chosen to Frame and Display on our Walls.

The Appreciation of such Lost Arts is something I Cherish very much.  I would assume that Modern Botanists probably use more Convenient Methods to compile such Information?   I can only Imagine the Hardships involved in doing a massive Project like this 134 years ago, when the United States was a very different Landscape than Today and with no such conveniences or safety as we Enjoy now!!!   Thank You Dr. William A. Tope... for a Job well done!!!


Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian


  1. Wowee! That is an AWESOME collection. I've been pressing flowers and leaves from my own yard, in hopes to eventually frame and display, but you've got "the real deal" antique here. Way cool!

  2. What an exciting project! Sounds like you've been hard at it! Hope you get to the East Valley soon and are successful!


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