Santa Cruz, California: 1878. Hardcover. Two folio presentation albums of beautifully arranged sea moss (seaweed) specimens, a total of 125 pages, presented by C. L. Anderson of Santa Cruz to Mills Seminary, in elaborate gilt stamped and tooled fine leather bindings.
Collecting, drying and pressing sea moss became a popular pastime in the mid to late 1800s. On the east coast, the Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz undertook the first formal survey of plant and animal life throughout Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound in 1873. One of the specimens here is from Cape Ann, Mass. Sea moss specimens were dried and prepared for display, often in albums, as in this presentation by Charles Anderson to Mills College.
The first album has manuscript botanical names of each specimen of seaweed and the location where it was gathered, and the second album with the sea mosses arranged decoratively.
The first album includes a full page manuscript presentation page, in which the author explains that the specimens are arranged not by system, but by "grand divisions", which include: the Rhodosperms or Red Algae; the Melanosperms, or Dark Algae; the Chlorosperms, or Green Algae; and the "plant like animals, often gathered as "Sea Mosses", the Hydroids & c." The presentation page dated Jan 1st, 1878, Santa Cruz, Cal., and signed C. L. Anderson. The book plates of the Margaret Carnegie Library, (Mills College, Seminary Park 1870) at the front paste down of each volume.
Most of the locations for the specimens are Santa Cruz; other locations include New York Bay, NY; College Point, NY; Cape Ann, Mass; Eastport, Maine; Plymouth, England; and Picton, Canada. A few of the specimens include notes on their naming, such as "Pikea Californica, named for Col. Pike author of "Subtropical Rambles".
The second folio volume includes sea moss specimens arranged decoratively, most of them in floral bouquet form. Others are very decorative, including a wreath, an astonishing harp in which each string consists of a delicate strand of seaweed; a ship's anchor; a cross; a double star; and a basket of flowers.
Charles Lewis Anderson (1827 - 1910) trained in medicine. In 1864 he moved to Santa Cruz, California, where he lived until his death in 1910. He was an amateur botanist and an avid collector of plants in Nevada and California. Many of his Carson City collections appeared in Asa Gray's 1865 paper "New Plants of California and Nevada, chiefly from Professor W. H. Brewer and Dr. C. L. Anderson." (Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 6, p. 519-556).
Folio volumes with gilt titles and elaborate borders at front boards, titled in gilt "Sea Mosses" at front covers and spines. Spines with gilt raised bands, and gilt decorated compartments. Marbled end papers, gilt inner dentelles.
Volume I,  pp, most of the specimens laid down on separate paper tipped in to the album. A few pages with 2 or more specimens. Volume II:  pp, multiple specimens per page, laid down on album pages. Volumes not paginated, but Vol. II numbered in pencil, with pages 2, 6, 7, 14, 22 and 57 not present. A total of 125 specimen pages in the two volumes.
A truly handsome labor of love. Very good condition. Item #22741