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The Seaweed Collector

While looking for good fodder for our wacky, fun and ever-growing Weird Book Room, I will often come across a book with a title or premise that seems weird at first, but then after a bit of delving, makes perfect sense. And in some cases, like today’s, the book turns out to be fascinating and beautiful, too.

That’s how I came across this book by Shirley Hibberd, first published in 1872. It’s called The Seaweed Collector: A Handy Guide to the Marine Botanist. Purported to be a great introduction to seaweeds, sponges and other plant and animal life under the sea, the book contains numerous black and white illustrations as well as eight tissue-guarded glorious color woodcut plates. It helps identify different varietals by many factors, as well as helping collectors classify and sort their finds. It used to be more common (though they are still seaweed hobbyists and enthusiasts today, apparently) for sea-visitors to collect and press seaweeds as scientific specimens or even souvenirs. Most commonly, they dried and pressed specimens were kept as objects of beauty, kept under glass or even framed and hung as art.

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