A few weeks ago I did a Wednesday Whimsy on Victorian trade card illustrations of people as flowers, in honor of Spring. Well, the obvious accompaniment to the flowers is the insects of the garden, so I’m sharing a few today. The Victorians seemed to derive much enjoyment from depicting nonhumans as people – wait till you see the Veggie People! But i’m saving them for Halloween because some of them are pretty scary.
I like the insect ladies on the Liebeg cards. They’re advertising for a meat extract, described on Wikipedia as a “black, molasses-like spread in an opaque white glass bottle.” The method for creating this foodstuff was developed in 1847 and the company being advertised began in the 1860’s. They’re well known in the trade card world for having done dozens, if not hundreds, of card series over the years, on topics ranging from my insect ladies today to sports, to geography to historical sets….lots to collect if you’re so minded.
There’s a convoluted corporate history of the company on Wikipedia, as you’d expect for a brand that started over 150 years ago. I think they might still exist as part of some conglomerate or other, but my interest is limited to the really old cards.
Back to the insect ladies, I think the Liebig ones are quote amusing and sweet. The ones from the French chocolatier are a bit more buglike…
A few quotes:
Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. Friedrich Nietzsche
I love all animals. I have a fascination with fish, birds, whales – sentient life – insects, reptiles. Nicolas Cage (Veronica sez: I literally tripped over Nicholas Cage one night at Disneyland, exiting the Indiana Jones ride. He’s one of the few celebrities I’ve encountered who seems to absolutely be the same person as his movie characters’ persona.Some of his movies I love with a passion and others…not so much.)
We are not like the social insects. They have only the one way of doing things and they will do it forever, coded for that way. We are coded differently, not just for binary choices, go or no-go. We can go four ways at once, depending on how the air feels: go, no-go, but also maybe, plus what the hell let’s give it a try. Lewis Thomas (Veronica again: Loved this quote! This gentleman was an American physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, administrator, educator, policy advisor, and researcher, per Wikipedia.)
My 10th Sonata is a sonata of insects. Insects are born from the sun… they are the sun’s kisses. Alexander Scriabin
I’m obsessed with insects, particularly insect flight. I think the evolution of insect flight is perhaps one of the most important events in the history of life. Without insects, there’d be no flowering plants. Without flowering plants, there would be no clever, fruit-eating primates giving TED Talks. Michael Dickinson
Veronica: I once sat through a lecture on fruit fly DNA at Caltech, given by a Nobel prize winner, which was interesting because to me it was such a literally tiny thing to focus one’s entire life around, yet this person had made tremendous scientific breakthroughs by doing so.
I grew up watching ‘Star Trek.’ I love ‘Star Trek.’ ‘Star Trek’ made me want to see alien creatures, creatures from a far-distant world. But basically, I figured out that I could find those alien creatures right on Earth. And what I do is I study insects. Michael Dickinson
It’s very easy to make insects move. Because they do move mechanically without the rippling of flesh as you mentioned. They move more like real tinker toys and you can make models of them quite easily. Michael O’Donoghue (first Head Writer for Saturday Night Live)