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Leuckart Nitsche Zoological Wall Charts

Nearly forgotten today, wall charts were a very common teaching aid used in classes from primary school to the university level. They came into common use in the mid1800's with the development of colouror lithography allowing relatively inexpensive color printing.


The majority of the background in this blog is from "Protozoa in the remarkable wall charts of Leuckart and Nitsche’s Zoologische Wandtaflen" by John Richard Dolan. When we discovered a set of nine of these, this article was the most informative that we found on their history.


The instigator, and main editor of the series, Rudolph Leuckart (1822-1898), was a major figure of zoology in his time. Ernst Mayer identified him as "Germany' s most prominent zoologist between Johannes Müller and Ernst Haeckel".


"Masterpieces of accuracy and scientific detail"

The first set published, whose reception was likely judged to be of some importance, consisted of three charts: one on Rhizopods, one on Octocorals, and one on Anthrostracean Crustaceans. The charts were described as "masterpieces of accuracy and scientific detail and supply inexhaustible material for laboratory study"


Eventually, there would be two series of charts. The first and extensive 'Series One' of 103 charts concerned almost exclusively invertebrates and was published from 1877 to 1901. All of these photographs are from the example swe have in stock. The 'Series Two' of 13 charts concerned largely vertebrate taxa and were published from 1892 to 1900.




The first editions credited Leuckart and Nitsche as editors

Over the years, there were three editors. The first series began in 1877 as edited by Rudolph Leuckart, then a renown Professor of Zoology in Leipzig, and Hinrich Nitsche, Professor of Zoology in Tharandt, and former student of Leuckart. From 1887 with Chart 51, the charts were labeled as edited by Leuckart alone. The last two charts of Series One were published in 1901, three years after Leuckart's death in 1898 as edited by Carl Chun, another former student of Leuckart, and his hand-picked successor in Leipzig.




Initialled HN for Illustrator Henrich Nitsche

The authorship of each chart was to be indicated with initials in the bottom right corner of the chart.


The 'HN' in the lower right corner indicated that the artwork was by was Hinrich Nitsche.













OB is for Otto Bütschli was a zoologist who was responsible for most of the protozoa charts.












We acquired a set of 9 of these charts. We were drawn to them for their wonderful colours and interesting subjects. They would look fantastic in a home interior or a bar or restaurant. As we researched, we realised the importance of these as scientific research and education tools. Please check out our collection as part of our vintage posters and prints.



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