And it’s a correct Classic Dinosaur Artwork as at this time, we’re taking a look at a fairly obscure assortment of paleoart from the very starting of the twentieth century. Let’s lay down some groundwork.
Collectable playing cards are of all ages. In my youth, within the schoolyard we might have traded, and beat one another mindless over, Pokémon playing cards (a superb custom that continues to at the present time), or soccer playing cards (possibly baseball playing cards in the event you’re within the US?). Generally, there’s a fad round dinosaur collectables. In my native Netherlands there was a set of grocery store dinosaur playing cards in 2016 that briefly took the nation by storm earlier than being quietly forgotten, however not earlier than I reviewed them on my outdated weblog.
The collectable hype goes again most likely additional than you’d suppose, to not less than the nineteenth century. A number of sequence of playing cards, that includes animals and crops, canine breeds, navy uniforms, landmarks, film stars, you title it, would have been produced across the flip of the century to assist promote chocolate, espresso, cleaning soap, sugar, etcetera. At the moment’s topic of debate is a group of playing cards produced by Theodor Reichardt Kakao in Germany beneath the title Tiere der Urwelt, or Prehistoric Animals. These would have include a field of cocoa, you possibly can gather them, you possibly can commerce them, you possibly can most likely beat individuals up and steal them.
Reichardt produced not less than 4 sequence of thirty playing cards every between 1900 and 1920. There have been different sequence by rivaling firms, too. The latter two Reichardt sequence had been illustrated by Heinrich Tougher, a reasonably well-known title in basic palaeoart whom we’ll get again to quickly sufficient. The primary two nevertheless had been illustrated by a mysterious particular person recognized solely as F. John.
In contrast to Tougher, F. John shouldn’t be actually a family title. Nothing is thought of F. John, not their gender, nationality (regardless of the Anglophone title, it’s cheap to imagine they had been German), background or every other works. All now we have is thirty signed illustrations on this first sequence and thirty extra within the second. So all we are able to do is have a look at these playing cards. At the moment, I’ll have a look at a alternative of Tiere der Urwelt playing cards from the primary sequence, estimated to have come out round 1902. Within the subsequent publish, we’ll have a look at the second F. John sequence, and after that we’ll do the Heinrich Tougher units as nicely for good measure. Can, and may, we save F. John from obscurity?
I discovered all of those (in addition to among the background data) on a web site known as Copyright Expired. A few of these playing cards appeared in an early weblog entry by David Orr on a earlier model of this weblog right here, however David was informed all of those had been by Tougher; some had been, in truth, by John.
I’m reviewing these so as of their serial quantity, so it’s going to be barely in every single place by way of time and clades. As an illustration, card primary is a water monitor, which isn’t even extinct! This one, quantity 4, is a moa, armed with a white, goose-like head and a profitable smile. I’m not going to faux F. John is an unfairly forgotten grasp of scientific artwork; of the 2 artists working for Reichardt, Heinrich Tougher is, undeniably, the extra proficient. However F. John brings one thing to the desk that none of their contemporaries did; whimsy. A way of humour, even. You gained’t discover any of that within the works of Tougher, Heilmann, Knight or Smit (possibly a bit in Woodward in the event you look). Technical palaeoart was very critical on the time. If John was instructed to make collectable illustrations that will enchantment to youngsters, they understood the project. Good tree.
A lot of the first few playing cards within the sequence are mammals, however in card 7, we run into a correct dinosaur. In fact, if you’re conversant in Charles Knight, you’ll acknowledge the affect of his 1897 “Agathaumas“, right here. It’s fairly shameless, however I’m fairly okay with it. You needed to take no matter reference you possibly can get in these days, and I’m wondering what number of collectors in Germany on the time would have been conversant in the unique anyway. The title Agathaumas had already fallen into disuse and John presents it as Triceratops, but this creation appears to be like much less like Triceratops than the unique Agathaumas did. Its nostril horn has moved additional again up the cranium, its frill appears to be like much more like a frilled lizard’s and fewer like a ceratopsian’s, and the boisterous grin of the Knight model has develop into extra of a realizing smile. Each the Knight model and this one (and the Joseph Smit one, too) have hippo toes. It retains all these fascinating lizardy scutes and osteoderms Knight bestowed upon it.
I needed to convey this Megatherium to your consideration as a result of it’s acquired an fascinating face. When reconstructed by Knight, Megatherium acquired an virtually polar-bear like face, Robert Bruce Horsfall makes it extra like a moose and Hawkins’ Crystal Palace one has extra of that tapir trunk look occurring. This appears to be a mix of all of them, with some black rhino thrown in, too. Its physique, in the meantime, is usually ape-like, with these lengthy sinewy arms. It may need been based mostly off another artist I don’t learn about, you possibly can by no means make sure. I like the way it’s hanging from the tree prefer it’s attempting to climb it, with out realizing it’s a lot too heavy. Possibly John needed to make it extra sloth-like?
What’s up with Deinotherium? Its ears are completely tiny. How’s a fast-running pachyderm to free any warmth on the savannah with these Shrek ears? Louis Figuier additionally had a Deinotherium, however it had huge floppy ears. John hasn’t actually accomplished a lot to distinguish its physique from that of an elephant – Deinotherium was taller and skinnier. Its head is sort of goofy and its eyes look a bit bleary. This appears to be like like an altogether extra relaxed animal than the belligerent characterization it acquired in Strolling With Beasts.
John’s work is at its most enjoyable when it’s motion packed and dynamic. Right here now we have some Flugsaurier, locked in mid-air fight. Fairly superior. Kicking and biting. These pterosarus look bat-like, and the textual content underlines this. The wings, curiously, have the suggestion of getting bat fingers going by way of them with out truly seeming to have bat fingers undergo them. As an alternative, they’ve fingered wings like so many old-school Archaeopteryx depictions. The gray animals pop in opposition to the spectacular orange sundown. F. John did good right here.
Extra dinosaurs, extra motion, and extra Knight knockoffs! I really like this one. It’s, after all, a model of Knight’s notorious Leaping Laelaps, however twisted to such cartoony proportions that it’s onerous to be mad. Whereas Knight gave his Laelaps completely cromulent tyrannosaur heads, these have heads that I can solely describe as muppet alligators. These rounded, elongated snouts are fairly humorous, and I feel that was partially the intent. Curiously, John retained the precise pose of the leaping one, whereas the one on the underside is posed utterly completely different. It actually does appear to be a crocodile with longer limbs. It’s a cool, dynamic scene. The unique is commonly used for example that not all pre-renaissance dinosaur artwork was stodgy swamp lizards, and this one if something conveys much more movement and drama. It’s barely let down by the color scheme, gray animals on a gray background, in comparison with the unique’s blue on inexperienced. Does the defending one have a wound on its arm?
Talking of stodgy swamp lizards: right here’s one of many extra baffling playing cards within the sequence. We now have a none-more-old-school depiction of Megalosaurus and Iguanodon, the primary recognized dinosaurs, locked in battle. By no means thoughts the 40 million years between them. The composition and the colors appear to be based mostly on an outdated Joseph Kuwasseg portray from the 1850s, depicting the identical animals. In the meantime, the depiction of the animals themselves are pure Crystal Palace. A pair variations on the Kuwasseg model exist, together with by Louis Figuier and Éduard Riou, all of which influenced this F. John model. To place issues in perspective: all these depictions had been practically half a century outdated already by the point F. John illustrated this. Science had moved on significantly within the meantime, to place it frivolously. Photographs like this based mostly on Waterhouse Hawkins appeared on different collectable playing cards of the time, too, so this wasn’t actually out of the strange.
Oddly, there are way more up-to-date theropods (as seen above) and iguanodonts (beneath) discovered on this sequence, by the identical artist. Apparently, these very antiquated dinosaurs can exist facet by facet in the identical set with their up to date brethren. F. John took their influences from in every single place, however was most likely not extraordinarily nicely versed in contemporaneous science. The affect of Kuwasseg’s landscapes does imply this is among the lushest dinosaur illustrations within the sequence.
Have you ever heard of Brontornis? I hadn’t. It’s an enormous, cumbersome flightless chook of unknown classification from Miocene South America, a neighbour of the fear birds however most likely not a phorusrhacid itself. F. John turns it right into a spherical birb with skinny toes, a blue head and humorous little wings. It’s doing battle with a vicious, aquatic, predatory… Hadrosaurus? What? As soon as once more, that is utterly in every single place, I’m not even going to try to unpack all of this. Nevertheless it’s a enjoyable and really uncommon illustration.
Right here’s a classic Mosasaurus, at its most serpentine and monstrous. I’ve run into sea-serpent mosasaurs earlier than once I mentioned Joseph Smit, who produced his across the similar time. It’s very a lot one thing you’d anticipate on an outdated map saying “right here be dragons”. These enamel are comically huge. I can’t learn its face, it doesn’t appear to have any eyes. It’s all mouth. By the way, F. John does a reasonably good job on these waves.
After giving Brontornis a great seeing-to, Hadrosaurus additionally will get a full card to itself. It appears to be like little prefer it did on the Brontornis card, the place it was skinny and stretchy and had a protracted neck. Right here, we see a way more cumbersome and ponderous monster, a chimaera that appears to be put collectively from all types of various pars. Its head is fairly recognizable as a hadrosaur, factors there. Then, it has this extraordinarily bottom-heavy physique, a crocodile’s tail and the legs of a frog. In some way, each John and Tougher gave their dinosaurs this excessive reptilian sprawl. I don’t know the place science stood on dinosaur limbs right now. There have been most likely rivaling views, with John and Tougher occupying one excessive. I’ve a tough time imagining how an animal like this may transfer.
In a set of oddities, now we have right here probably our largest oddity but. This Hylaeosaurus has little or no in frequent with any depiction of any dinosaur that I’m conversant in. It doesn’t even resemble the famously speculative Crystal Palace Hylaeosaurus very a lot. It once more appears to be put collectively from disparate elements of various animals, however even then solely vaguely so. It has a barely turtle-like head, however not a lot so. Its tail is that of an Australian gidgee skink, however not a lot so. Its physique is squat, its limbs stubby, its pores and skin is free and its armour appears to be like like no armour I’ve seen in nature, overlapping armadillo lizard scales that appear to work extra just like the movable spikes of a hedgehog. The extra I have a look at F. John’s work, the extra distinctive and imaginative it turns into. However it’s far faraway from any scientific interpretation of Hylaeosaurus.
I’m starting to note that F. John retains posing their dinosaurs on these samey, generic rocky outcrops by the ocean. Presumably they didn’t know what to do with mesozoic crops… however who does? In comparison with among the oddball creatures we’ve seen to this point, we’re on barely firmer floor once more. It’s Stegosaurus in its eight-spiked incarnation, with its again plates organized single-file. That is just about consistent with the science of the time. This is perhaps based mostly on Marsh’ authentic skeletal, or on an analogous piece by Joseph Smit. I don’t see a lot Knight affect in right here. I’ve positively seen different variations of Stegosaurus with further armour like this. Its forelimbs are splayed like a lizard’s as soon as extra, however its for much longer again leg is straight and rests on a decrease degree rock. It’s the one method this animal doesn’t develop into lopsided.
One other occasion of John taking inspiration from historic sources: this one relies on a 1863 work by Édouard Riou, and an oft-repeated palaeoart meme even earlier than Knight ever appeared on the scene. Figuier additionally has a model. A minimum of the ichthyosaur doesn’t have a visual sclerotic ring. Background volcano, take a shot! Riou’s model didn’t have that, that’s a brand new addition. John’s illustrations do appear to happen in Cartoon Dino Land. A barren, rocky, volcanic panorama with crimson or darkened skies, like The Land Earlier than Time.
I informed you there’d be extra up-to-date iguanodonts. Effectively, I used to be solely half-lying. Would you acknowledge this as an Iguanodon if I hadn’t informed you? F. John has as soon as once more gone full big, crawling lizard with this one. It’s based mostly on the Bernissardt Iguanodon however miles away from the upright creature in kangaroo stance proposed by Dollo and Marsh. It’s sat stretched out over its rock, its quick limbs splayed out. Once more, it’s onerous to think about this big animal strolling. Does John think about it as a quadruped or a biped? I really like the colors, although. It appears to have amphibian pores and skin, and its intricate sample is nicely realized. I really like an orange sky.
Making use of the sprawling lizard look to a sauropod produces the strangest impact of all. F. John does it right here, and each Tougher and Vatagin did later. It’s a mistake to suppose researchers all used to suppose sauropods had splayed reptile limbs earlier than new information proved them improper. Actually, all skeletal diagrams from Marsh onward, all reconstructions by Knight, and all the widespread mounted skeletons and casts all the time had straight limbs. I do not know the place this specific trope got here from.
Laying that apart, we’ve one other good, goofy illustration. The low-slung construct of the sauropod was pretty typical of the time; we see related in Joseph Smit. It has a pleasant, harmless eye and its pores and skin is, as soon as once more, fairly elaborate. That tail may be very lizard-like. It’s humorous that this Brontosaurus apparently climbed a mountain whereas its brethren within the distance are having a splash within the swamp.
Let’s end this prolonged publish with a dinosaur from Germany. Compsognathus right here is reconstructed within the kangaroo pose, full with overlong toes (its particular title does imply “lengthy foot”). Once more, its face is fairly weird, with that eye fairly far to the entrance. Apart from that, what catches my consideration is that it’s apparently laying an egg? That’s bizarre and authentic. There doesn’t appear to be a nest, although. I’m afraid it would roll downhill this manner. The textual content on this specific picture is just too low-res to learn, however it appears to say that Compsognathus hopped round like a kangaroo. Would that F. John had illustrated that!
Let’s be sincere. If I’ve to explain F. John, I’d name them the primary nice hack dinosaur artist. Copying different palaeoartists and barely tweaking them into ones personal type is definitely not one thing F. John invented, however I can’t consider anybody who did it on the identical scale earlier than; there are thirty playing cards on this sequence and thirty extra within the subsequent. However isn’t that simply the story of palaeoart? So many books have we mentioned on these pages with less-than-original palaeoart, limitless variations on themes, limitless appearances of dinosaurs designed by Knight, Burian, Sibbick and Spielberg. That doesn’t make it much less helpful or much less enjoyable, and F. John’s work is a lot, a lot enjoyable. John didn’t have probably the most regard for the scientific facet of pure historical past, however they’d lots of enjoyable making these creatures bizarre and humorous and monstrous. In fact. my subsequent publish might be centered on a variety from the second sequence, and in the event you suppose F. John’s work was barely whimsical and cartoony now, nicely, it’s solely getting extra so!