Identify old fern

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    I’m trying to identify this old fern – the only details the annotation gives:
    Direct Nature Printing, MJ Aitken 1854


    I wondered if it might be Cephalomanes Javanicum?

    Any help would be gratefully received.

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  A89.

    Andrew Leonard

    Aitken experimented with producing electrotypes from many materials, including ferns, ie similar to Bradbury’s method. There is a section describing his experiments in Roderic Caves’s ‘Impressions of Nature‘ 2010, pp92-93..
    This fern looks like the one from Birmingham City Libraries that Cave illustrates. If it is not the Birmingham print then it is a great find. I have no idea what species the fern is.

    Michael Hayward

    I am not sure. It is not the Cephalomanes as that is a pinnate species. It looks like a Lindsaea or possibly Adiantum.

    Tim Pyner

    I can add little to what Michael has said. The print is almost certainly the Birmingham City Library’s copy illustrated in Cave; it has the same very small dark blemishes on the background and the writing is identical. I don’t know what species it is, though I would have guessed Hymenophyllaceae.
    I think some people would assume the term ‘Direct Nature Printing’ means prints made by inking the specimen and applying it to the paper. I suppose Aitken used the term because he printed directly from the Britannia metal plate in which the original impression had been created by the specimen under pressure, without the intervention of two stages of electrotyping.

    Adrian Dyer
    Read more about Nature Printing

    It looks like it might be Adiantum formosum to me?

    Fred Rumsey



    Thanks for all your help – seems it most likely belongs to the Adiantum family.

    Difficult to discern which! Thought it could perhaps be Adiantum Raddianum?

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