Science Art: Plate II, Mitchill’s Fishes of New-York, by Alexander Anderson, 1815.

Alexander Anderson, medical doctor and illustrator, is remembered as America’s first wood engraver. He helped Samuel Mitchill explain what that was wriggling on the end of the line to all New York’s anglers a couple of centuries ago.

This plate comes from Digital Gallery of the New York Public Library. Any designers reading this would do well to explore the other images in the Alexander Anderson gallery – there’s a wealth of early 19th century lettering, scrollwork, text decorations and intricate twisty bits in there.

That any illustration with a description that begins “1. Rorstrated Dory…” should be in a book deemed rare is unspeakably sad.


  1. Big question: what will follow the progression of knowledge networks, from tall tales, to etchings, to photos, to internet access including all of the above. And how can academia survive the (conceit of?) widespread free knowledge availability.

  2. 1. You might be interested in some of the things my friend Nick has been writing about – He’s predicting the end of the Digital Age, basically, and thinking about what comes next. (He’s leaning toward biotech.)

    2. We’re not at the point yet – *yet* – where knowledge can just be downloaded directly to the brain, Matrix-style. So it seems like academia’s role is going to be more and more finding ways to parse and frame and edit information so it seems sensible. Narrative-making.

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