Old Mushrooming Books

One of the wonderful things about mushrooming is that, compared to other hobbies and interests, little has changed over the last hundred years or so.

Unlike sailing or mountaineering, there have been few technical innovations and the equipment we use is not so dissimilar to the equipment our grandparents might have used.

And with mushrooming books it is the same.

Sure, nowadays we expect photographs of our prey but, sometimes (and often in my opinion), a well presented drawing is just as good.

I have been looking at some old mushrooming books that are now, due to their age, in the public domain.

These books are freely available for download from The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org) but you may also download them from here.




The first I selected was the lovely Among the Mushrooms by Caroline A. Burgin and published in 1900 (more details at The Internet Archive.)

The lovely tome contains some beautiful images (see the example on the left) and the text is still relevant today in our iPod, mobile phone enhanced times.

This 206 page volume perhaps has to work harder than modern books to convey the information that we require.

Is this a problem?  Well, no I rather think not.

The book starts, rather charmingly with these words…

This book is intended for those who, though ignorant on the subject, desire to know something about mushooms.

The first question that such an one ask upon find a mushroom is, “What is its name?”

If there is no one near to tell him, then follows the second inquiry, “How can I find it out for myself?”

Although I haven’t read the whole book, the pages that I have looked at seem to offer a clear and concise introduction to mushrooming that even 110 years haven’t managed to blunt.

Although I would probably not use this book as my sole mushrooming guide, it is interesting reading and, being in pdf format, could be copied onto an ebook reader or even… a mobile phone!

An example of the quality of the writing is offered here with the entry for….

LACTARIUS PIPERATUS = peppery.

The Peppery Lactarius.

Cap white, 4 to 9 inches broad, fleshy, rigid, depressed in centre when young, reflexed margin, at first involute, when full grown the surface becomes funnel-shaped and regular, even, smooth, without zones; flesh white.

Stem 1 to 2 inches long, 1 to 2 inches thick, solid, obese, equal or obconical, slightly covered with powder (pruinose), white.

Gills decurrent, crowded, narrow, scarcely broader than one line, obtuse at edge, regularly dividing by pairs from below upward (dichotomous), curved like a bow (arcuate), then all extended upward in a straight line, white, with occasional yellow spots.

The milk white, unchangeable, plentiful, and acrid. This is common in woods. The cap in one of our specimens turned yellow when old, and was slightly striate at the margin; it was dry and thick and had no odor. The flesh had a whitish-brownish tinge where the cuticle was peeled off.

Found it only in August.

I can quite imagine Caroline Burgin kneeling down in a wooded glade, 110 years ago,  and entering  those details into her notebook – just as many of us do these days!

Among the Mushrooms may be downloaded by right clicking here and choosing to  save as (it might read Save Link As on some browsers.)

All the best

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