JF Ptak Science Books (3,000+ total posts, including Quick Posts)
I’ve put together a relatively large collection of images from 1850-1940 which are graphic comparisons of data and graphical displays of quantitative information.. In general they display the basic concepts of one idea in terms of something else, or they simply exhibit the idea or concept in cold hard one-to-one images. The two images below are good interesting, standard representations of these categories.
The first is a very neat and complex display of the food eaten by animals in the London Zoo and was published in the Illustrated London News on May 17, 1913. The data, found in the report of the Zoological Society of London (for the year 1912) is entitled “The Feeding of the Beasts: a Year’s Food fore the “Zoo’s” Collection. The real story though is in the subtitle: “from shrimps to rats; from onions to oil cakes and mice, the food consumed by the animals at the “zoo” during 1912. (I’m assuming that the word “zoo” is in quotations as it is a diminutive of “Zoological”, ad was seen as slangish.) As you can see the language of the undoubtedly stiff report is beautifully brought to life (but not for long) in this work by W.B. Robinson.
We see 15,000 pounds of lettuce in a lump and a pile of 4,220 bunches of carrots, along with a serpentine 185 wagons of hay and a snaking 219 wagons of straw; there are giant cubes of biscuits and milk tins, and an even larger cube of 183,000 bananas in boxes; there are orderly armies of goats and rabbits, and a very neat ordering of 19,000 pounds of potatoes in stiff white sacks. At bottom we see comparatively lonely contingent of 28 ducks (undoubtedly hoping that something else besides what was happening was happening); and of course an ant-like column of 7,217 rats. There were also masses of clover, boxes of sparrows, 857 pigeons, 123 pounds of figs, 2 tons of dates, 93 bushels of hemp, 4500 pounds of grapes, 500 pounds of sugar (?), 34,000 eggs, and a slithering line of 25,000 mice. Most disturbing though is the central figure of a long, quiet column of 318 horses. I can’t help but feel sorry for them. It is a remarkable and successful effort to put the data into a form that was somewhat more understandable, if less digestible, and a little more heinous.
The second image is a simple but somewhat bizarre rendering, changing counting units of numerals and replacing them with telephone operators—I can honestly say that I haven’t seen this before. It is quietly bizarre, but still quite effective in making the sales pitch for the noxious element.