Wandering through the German Wikisource

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The German Wikisource is one of the largest out there, and wading through it can take up a large part of your day before you know it. Though the amount of content contained within is too large for any one post to show, there are some parts in particular that I've found to be either very interesting or head-scratchingly WTF. Below is a small exhibition of some of the images there that have made an impression on me, both good and bad.

A picture from an alpine expedition (Montanvert to Eismeer) for a book published in 1792:

This image of a book scanner isn't attached to any article but I like it. I've seen that book on architecture elsewhere there so one of those images should turn up eventually.

Here's what your bookshelf looks like when you're a bishop.

One more photo of the scanner above, showing the overall setup. This image gives more info on the equipment itself - the camera is a Pentax K20D for example.

A Latin tombstone. Two years ago a Latin tombstone helped settle a linguistic dispute in Belgium too.

Title page for a book from 1669 on astrology, specifically the effect of the Moon's movement on the fate of men - Erklärung etlicher der Menschen Zufäll nach des Monden Lauff. Each chapter of the book is about what happens when the Moon is in a different constellation.
Some sort of poster from 1650 about travels in a number of countries - Germany, Netherlands, Spain, etc. One can only hope that haberdashery like this will someday come back in style.

Reicher Rabe can afford to be on the wrong Wiki as well, apparently.

A shocking devil story (Ein erschröcklich geschicht Vom Tewfel), 1533:

Another similar story, this one from 1654 apparently about a woman believed to be possessed by a dumb (as in silent) devil and eventually executed. 17th-century German is not my forté though so I can't vouch that that's exactly what this story is about.

This book here (Schedel'sche Weltchronik, AKA the Nuremburg Chronicle) from 1493 is full of pictures. It's got riding on a horse with the devil:

Lots of kings and priests:


Tons of cities - here's Rome.

People drowning:

A wolf boy:

and much more.

A story here from the 17th century about a woman who gave birth to a most frightful child. Very frightful indeed:

From 1693, a story about a fearsome sea monster:

From 1641, a man's wife and her attempts to steal his money while he's drunk:

Pictures from Die Gartenlaube from 1853 to 1876 are almost endless, so I'll only add four of them here. Being much more recent than most other images on Wikisource, the art is also more akin to modern tastes. Click on Inhaltsverzeichnis for each year on that page and scroll to the bottom to see what images there are for each year. The magazine is still not entirely scanned and typed up so not everything is complete.

But then again newer does not always mean more pleasing to the eye - there is also the work by Ringelnatz (from 1909), really some of the worst illustrations I've seen. Behold the illustrations from a man who published books for 30 years:

Penultimately, let's take a look at some comets. Since comets tend to come without warning and make their presence very known in the night sky, one finds a lot of illustrated books about them with a lot of theories as to what they are supposed to be, from the astronomical to fantastic. You'll also notice a lot more Latin in these texts, very easy to make out since German at the time was written in Fraktur whereas anything in Latin used more or less the same fonts that we use today.

This book is about a comet seen 3 December 1664 in Hamburg:

Another book on the same comet, showing its path through the sky:

Another comet, linked to the Wikipedia page on Great Comets:

And then this last one, from 1687. The same year in which Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published, in fact.

Finally, that architecture book. Apparently it's this book, but the one I was thinking of on Wikisource is similar but different - it's actually this one about two churches in Köln/Cologne. Some more books on architecture can be found here. We'll end the post with a few pictures from that book.

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