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In 1865 the Auzoux company introduced a new line of large-scale plant models. They complemented the new biology teaching programmes that were being introduced into universities and schools.

Plant models in the Whipple's collection

Model of the poisonous 'sickener' mushroom.
The poisonous 'sickener' mushroom, made by Dr. Auzoux; mid-19th century (Wh.5613.2).

The Whipple Museum has two large-scale plant models made by Auzoux; one of these is a wallflower. There are several models in the collection without maker's marks that are also thought to be by Auzoux, including a labelled model of a mulberry.

As well as large-scale plant models, the Auzoux company also made models of fruit and fungi. The Whipple Museum has six fungi models by Auzoux, including Russula emetica, which is also known as 'the sickener' due to its poisonous nature.

'Assistance to beginnners'

In a paper titled Science teaching in schools, published in the first issue of Nature, the Reverend W. Tuckwell recommended Auzoux's large-scale plant models for allowing impatient pupils to see tiny botanical details:

"[F]or schools which have large purses or liberal friends, Dr. Auzoux's Models of Plants and Plant Organs, ranging in price from 20 to 100 francs, and ten times the size of life, form a luxuriant assistance to beginners, which only those can appreciate who have worn out their eyesight and their temper over a composite flouret or the glume of a small grass." (1)

References

  1. W. Tuckwell, 'Science teaching in schools', Nature, 1, 1 (1869), available online at: http://www.nature.com/nature/about/first/science.html.

Anna Maerker

Anna Maerker, 'Plant models', Explore Whipple Collections, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, 2008.

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