Friday, February 22, 2013

Dragons of the Alps

We have written before about unicorns being sited in the New World, and a seven-headed hydra in a cabinet of curiosities, but now we find evidence of dragons roaming the Alps. The first edition of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Itinera Alpina (London: H. Clements, 1708) contains some fantastic images, but it is the expanded 1723 edition from Lugduni Batavorum that caught our eye. The exhaustive study of the regions in and around the Alps contains a series of images of exotic fauna of the region including several dragons.

Scheuchzer expressed his doubts about the first-hand accounts of the dragons that he reports, but still chose to include them. Either he held out a romantic belief in the ancient beasts or he hoped they would be sensational enough to heighten interest in his work.

To see the fire-breathing monsters, ask for Rare QH175.S32 Vol. 3-4. The first edition is Rare QH175.S3. Unfortunately, there is no information on how to train the dragons...

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