From: Louis Figuier, The Ocean World: Being a description of the sea and some of its inhabitants, 1872.
Perusing the stacks in the University of Chicago’s Crerar Library one day, I found this gem of a book – a richly illustrated account of sea creatures from 1872 by a naturalist named Louis Figuier. In it are many delightful woodcuts of hundreds of species of molluscs, crustraceans, echinoderms, and fish, of native divers sponge fishing off the coast of Syria and South Americans using horses to fish for electric eels. And then there are the wonderful accounts of traveling in between. Among the woodcuts is this image of a “giant cuttlefish,” which was the stuff of legends for hundreds of years and was only photographed alive for the first time in 2004. The pdf is available in full from Open Library. It’s a wonderful reminder that for many hundreds of years, the only way to document and share these observations from the natural world was through illustration.