Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reichenbachia added to Digital Media Repository

We are pleased to announce that Reichenbachia: Orchids Illustrated and Described is now available in the Digital Media Repository!  This four-volume 19th century text was the creative vision of orchidologist Frederick Sander and provides life-sized illustrations and descriptions of several hundred orchids. 

Reichenbachia, named after the renown German orchidologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, was created over a four year span from 1886 to 1890 as a collaboration between Sander and English painter Henry George Moon, who provided most of the illustrations.  The text was issued in two series, each containing two volumes, all of which were published in two year intervals from 1888 to 1894.  The four volumes were dedicated to Queen Victoria; Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia;  Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia; and Marie Henriette of Austria respectively.  

Sander, the main creative force behind Reichenbachia, was born Heinrich Friedrich Conrad Sander in Germany in 1847 and later settled in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, where he sold seeds and later concentrated on orchids.  By the 1880's, Sander's nursery covered four acres with roughly 60 greenhouses.

The collaboration between Sander and Moon, a landscape painter, was not without conflict.  While Sander wanted the orchids to be depicted in an idealized way, Moon was determined to include natural imperfections in his work, and it was the latter approach that won over in the end.  Moon would later marry Sander's daughter in 1894.  

All four volumes of Reichenbachia are held in print at Ball State University Archives and Special Collections, which is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday. 

Orchid enthusiasts should also visit the Charles E. Bracker Orchid Photographs collection in the Digital Media Repository, which features photographs taken by Dr. Charles E. Bracker, professor of botany and plant pathology at Purdue University from 1964 to 1999.