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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Digging for Gold at the Library: Paasch

(by Gina Bardi, Reference Librarian)

The other day an archivist here had a question about a piece of equipment she found in a photograph. She wasn't sure what it was and asked our historian and the Library staff if we could help. Stephen suggested we break out the Paasch. Paasch sounds like an Easter Egg dying kit, but he is in fact the author of Illustrated Marine Encyclopedia. Paasch, or more formally Capt. H. Paasch, Knight of the Order of "Leopold," of the Imperial Order "Francis Joseph," of the Military Order of "Christ," etc., Member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, Surveyor to Lloyd's Register for Belgium, Author of "From Keel to Truck," etc. (or at least that is how he has listed himself on the title page...I hope his friends just called him Paasch), is probably better known for his multilanguage dictionary, From Keel to Truck. The Illustrated Marine Encyclopedia was published in response to the success of that title as apparently many readers wrote asking him to expand the English definitions. He accommodated and added material related to merchant service in general. The result is a classic of maritime reference.

What makes Illustrated Marine Encyclopedia so interesting to me (besides the fact that the book is dedicated to "His most Gracious Majesty Leopold II King of the Belgians, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Sovereign of the Independent Congo State"--a controversial dedicatee indeed) are the titular illustrations. The drawings are not only beautiful but so exact that they almost appear to be 3-D. They pop from the page and invite you to invest time in exploring the smallest of the details. The explanations of what exactly (and I do mean exactly) you are looking at are on the opposite page. This is the sort of reference book you could curl up with by a fire. I've included some of my favorites below, but come to the library and see for yourself!




Fittings and tools


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