In October 1876, Darwin was informed by the science journalist Otto Zacharias that ‘an artistically designed album’ containing photographs of ‘the followers of the theory of evolution’ in Germany was being prepared for his birthday the following year (Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Otto Zacharias, 2 October 1876). The album, now at Down House (English Heritage, EH 88202652) was sent in February 1877 by the civil servant Emil Rade, and contained 165 portraits of German and Austrian scientists (see letter from Emil Rade, [before 16] February 1877). The work was lavishly produced and bound in velvet with metal embossing. Its ornate frontispiece was designed by the painter Arthur Fitger and dedicated: ‘Dem Reformator der Naturgeschichte Charles Darwin’ (to the reformer of natural history Charles Darwin). Most of the people in the album were faculty members of German and Austrian universities. They were arranged by institution and professional rank, with professors in larger portraits at the centre or the top of the page. Ernst Haeckel was given special prominence, with a full-page portrait at the front of the album. He also appeared at the centre of a group photograph of zoology students at Jena. Haeckel was evidently not satisfied, however, for he wrote to Darwin on 9 February 1877: ‘what will perhaps astonish you is that the number of contributors is not larger and the production is not more splendid’.
Darwin received another photo album in February 1877 (EH 88202653; see letter from A. A. van Bemmelen and H. J. Veth, 6 February 1877). This was from his scientific admirers in the Netherlands. The Dutch album had been proposed by Hermanus Hartogh Heijs van Zouteveen, the translator of Descent and Expression, together with Christiaan Karel Hoffmann and Pieter Harting, professors of zoology and comparative anatomy at Leiden and Utrecht universities respectively. The council of the Nederlandsche Dierkundige Vereeniging (Dutch Zoological Society) was chosen to co-ordinate the initiative, and a letter was circulated to potential contributors (Heide 2009, pp. 114–15). The Dutch album was sent to Darwin by the president and secretary of the society, Adriaan Anthoni van Bemmelen and Huibert Johannes Veth. It was luxuriously bound in red velvet with silver embossing. The contributors were apothecaries, merchants, high-school teachers, and artists, as well as scientific and medical professionals.
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