The Final Icones

Icones Farlowianae took over 41 years and more than $50,000 from the Farlow fortune to create. It depicted 103 species of mushrooms, 5 of them new, including Inocybe amarescensLipiota brunneaTricholoma oliveumStropharia rugoso-annulata, and Stropharia subcaperata. Other fungi pictured were not often represented in contemporary books so their beautiful plates and thorough descriptions added to the book's value.

 

The publication of the Icones was met by an enthusiastic response. By January 1930, before the advertisements had been mailed, 225 of the 500 copies were already sold [33]. The book was sold through the Farlow Library, at the cost of $40.00 per copy.

One of the first reviews was written by C.H. Kauffman of the University of Michigan in the January 17, 1930 edition of the journal Science. In his introduction Kauffman explains why this Icones was such an important work.

The mycologists of the Old World have during the last two centuries, supplied students of agarics, in rather numerous Icones and other publications, with an abundance of colored figures of these fascinating plants. With the exception of the Icones of Boudier, where the scientific training of a mycologist was to a remarkable degree linked with the talent of a real artist in the same man, no illustrations of mushrooms have appeared which remotely approach the beauty and scientific accuracy of the plates in the volume before us. It is furthermore, the first extensive collection of colored plates of American agarics to be conceived, executed and published in the country [34].

Another strength of Icones Farlowianae is the fact that it is so well balanced. Each genus is treated equally with no one being more emphasized than any other. Also each plate is accessible to beginners but also informative to scholars. The species Farlow chose to represent are also very common all over the Northeast. This makes the book accessible to a wide range of people. These characteristics also make it as useful today as it was when it first came out 70 years ago.

Even after all these years Farlow's Icones has not been duplicated. Upon examination of the estimated cost to create such a volume it is really not surprising. Most of the figures listed below are actual, not estimated, amounts. The majority of this money came from Farlow and, after his death, from his widow Lilian Horsford Farlow. This book, on North American Fungi, is of unsurpassed elegance and worth and stands as a monument to their dedication.

Lisa DeCesare
Cambridge, MA
September 2000

 

Bridgham's Salary

$ 9,350

$5.50 per day; approx $935 per year for 10 years

Krieger's Salary

$12,000

$1,200 per year for 10 years

Boston Heliotype Printing Company
(approximate cost of printing 103 plates)

$20,000

plates cost between $100 and $250 per set

Cambridge Safety Vaults Company
(estimated cost of storage from 1893 to 1928)

$ 1,750

35 years at $50 per year
based on Farlow's old storage receipts

Burt's Salary
(estimated)

$ 1,800

for 1.5 years of work and travel to and from Cambridge
based on the yearly salary for the Farlow librarian at that time

Merrymount Printing Company
(cost of binding book)

$ 8,000

total cost outlined in correspondence

Merrymount Printing Company
(cost of advertisement)

$ 55

total cost outlined in correspondence

TOTAL COST CIRCA EARLY 1900's

$52,955

 

TOTAL COST 1999

over $1,000,000

using an on-line inflation calculator