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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Time

Have you seen this bird?

Nicolas Martinet, illustrator. In Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon; Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. C3 .B929h

This lovely fellow is an illustration of the turkey (or, in French, Le Dindon) from Buffon's 18th-century Histoire Naturelle.

Here's another plate, also from Buffon, of a rather mean-looking turkey in a barnyard setting.

Nicolas Martinet, illustrator. In Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon; Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. C3 .B929h

Or, if you prefer your turkeys even older, here is the description of the turkey from John Josselyn's An Account of Two Voyages to New England, published in 1674


John Josselyn, An Account of Two Voyages to New England. London, 1674. A 674a

According to Josselyn, "The Turkie, which is in New England a very large Bird, they breed twice or thrice in a year, if you would preserve the young chickens alive, you must give them no water, for if they come to have their fill of water they will drop away strangely, and you will never be able to rear any of them: they are excellent meat, especially a Turkey-Capon beyond that, for which eight shillings was given, their eggs are very wholesome and restore decayed nature exceedingly. But the French say they breed the leprosie, the Indesses make Coats of Turkie feathers woven for their children."

Josselyn was a Englishman who traveled twice to New England (as his book title states)--once for fifteen months and once for eight years. An Account of Two Voyages and his earlier work New England Rarities provide some of the best and earliest descriptions of New England wildlife.

You can see Josselyn's New England Rarities, as well as volumes from Buffon's massive Histoire Naturelle in the current Creature Comforts exhibit. Or if you want to see live turkeys, you may be able to just look out your window--an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the prevalence of wild turkeys in South Jersey.




Happy Thanksgiving to all the friends of the Rosenbach and Rosenblog. We at the Rosenbach we are thankful and grateful for each and every one of you!

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