Astronomical Diagrams

This set of twelve hand-coloured astronomical prints and explanatory card are contained in a portfolio folder labelled "Astronomical Diagrams". This series was first issued by Reynolds in 1846, although he and other publishers continued to produce them throughout the second half of the 19th century. They responded to a perceived market for popular science products and were intended for informal learning within the home. They could be bought in sets or singly and, at a price of 1 shilling, were affordable to middle class audiences.

A number of the cards have tissue paper backings and holes in the card in order to allow the user to hold them up to the light and see the stars, planets or phases of the Moon displayed as light areas against a darker background. Several of the more detailed images were drawn and engraved by John Emslie, who also collaborated with Reynolds on another set of diagrams, "Illustrations of Natural Philosophy". Reynolds’ educational diagrams received a prize medal at the International Exhibition of 1862.

The titles of the cards are: The Theory of Seasons, Transparent Chart of the Heavens, Transparent Solar System, Telescopic Appearance of the Moon, The Central Sun and Theory of the Stellar Universe, The Phases of the Moon, Comparative Magnitudes of the Planets, Comets and Aerolites, The Earth and its Atmosphere, Meteorology, Eclipses, and The Sun and Solar Phenomena. This covered the standard knowledge expected from elementary texts and, although reflecting mid-19th-century thinking and discoveries, presents a similar series of topics to 18th-century works such as AST0015, contemporary sets of lantern slides, such as AST1098, or popular texts produced throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

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