Maria Sibylla Merian Botanical Artist Gold Aurum® Series
Celebrate the extraordinary naturalist, explorer, and scientific artist Maria Sibylla Merian with this collection of illustrations from her groundbreaking studies of exotic plants and insects. Merian’s renderings are not only impeccable in their scientific clarity, but through her observations, she contradicted the commonly held ideas of the day that insects developed through spontaneous generation. Credited as the first person to record the process of metamorphosis in insects, Maria Sibylla Merian is recognized as one of the most influential scientists of the Enlightenment. Her method of classification for butterflies and moths is used today.
A true pioneer, Merian broke with tradition and established new standards in numerous areas of scientific enquiry. At a time when women were relegated to purely domestic lives, she was entirely independent. With her two artistically trained daughters, Merian made a living by running her own business: an art and scientific research studio. In order to study her subjects empirically in their natural environment, which had never been done, she sold her entire stock of art and specimens for the money to secure passage to colonial Dutch Suriname. The greatest legacy of her trip is the body of art and scientific discovery in which it resulted. Additionally significant was Merian’s rejection of convention in traveling without a trusted male escort, and it was the first scientific research trip at that time to be entirely self-funded.
Each fine art print in this series showcases the extraordinary artistic skill of the original Merian scientific illustrations on a background of 24 karat gold. Lightweight, durable, and collectible, these exquisite fine art prints represent the blending of cutting-edge technology and timeless lithographic artwork.
Born in Frankfurt in 1647, Maria Sibylla Merian grew up in a family of artists and printmakers. She learned the arts of painting and engraving from her stepfather, the still-life artist Jacob Marrel. At the age of 13, Merian began to collect and study insects, intrigued by the changes that insects underwent in their lives. Her curiosity about the natural world would not only become a lifelong fascination but would provide her with a groundbreaking career. She went on to observe and record the life cycles of many species of insects and amphibians, nearly 200 in total.
Originally published in 1705 in Dutch and Latin, Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium was the first documentation of the natural history of Suriname. The artist created 60 engravings, illustrating the life cycle of insect development in context with cultivated and wild plants of the region. Her compositions of insects in their habitats were revolutionary creations that changed the course of natural science. Her practice of direct observation, recording the stages of metamorphosis in a single illustration, and depicting the complete environment became the standard for natural history illustrations: to combine insects with the plants on which they fed, thereby illustrating and clarifying these important ecological relationships.
Elizabeth Blackwell Botanical Artists Gold Aurum® Series
In this series, we honor pioneering botanical artist Elizabeth Blackwell with this gorgeous curated collection of her engravings of medicinal plants. Blackwell, recognized as the first British female herbalist, methodically produced her hand-drawn, etched, and engraved, hand-colored illustrations for A Curious Herbal, which was published in installments from 1737 to 1739. The artist published four plates and a page of text per week, totaling 500 meticulous illustrations. The complete work was published in two volumes, titled A Curious Herbal containing five hundred cuts of the most useful plants, which are now used in the practice of physick, to which is added a short description of ye plants and their common uses in physick.
A book of plants, known as a herbal, describes their appearance, healing properties, and instructions for preparing medicines. The earliest records of plants used for medicinal purposes date back 5,000 years from Egypt and China. Discorides, a Greek physician, wrote De materia medica in AD 65, which was the principal record of medicinal plants until the end of the 17th century.
Each fine art print in this series showcases the extraordinary artistic skill of the original Blackwell botanical illustrations on a background of 24 karat gold. Lightweight, durable, and collectible, these exquisite fine art prints represent the blending of cutting-edge technology and timeless lithographic artwork.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Elizabeth came from a wealthy merchant family, providing her with a good education. Her studies included art and languages, which would be useful in her future work on A Curious Herbal. Blackwell drew her inspiration from the plant specimens in the Chelsea Physic Garden, London. This four-acre garden was established in 1673 with the express purpose of growing and studying plants to be used as medicines. Blackwell’s herbal was highly praised by prominent physicians and apothecaries of the day.
While Blackwell’s intricate botanical illustrations are remarkable in their own right, the strange circumstances that inspired the creation of her herbal also make them memorable. Self-taught in the processes of etching and engraving, Elizabeth Blackwell embarked on this long project in order to raise money to free her husband from a debtor’s prison. Not only were her engravings impeccable, but the herbal itself was the most comprehensive study of medicinal plants at that time. A Curious Herbal remained in print for decades after the artist’s death.
Aurum® gold bills are the smallest verifiable unit of gold available on the market today. Each of the fine art prints within the Maria Sibylla Merian and Elizabeth Blackwell Collection contains a precise, verifiable 100mg of 24 karat gold. A superfine layer of gold is applied to a protective, printable polymer material using patented, proprietary processes. A superfine layer of gold is applied to a protective, printable polymer material using patented, proprietary processes. The precious metal within each Aurum® is visible throughout each fine art print from edge to edge and is fully recoverable using standard fire assay techniques.
- Each fine art print contains 100 milligrams of .999 pure 24 karat gold
- Each print measures 4.7″ x 2.64″
- Each set comes is a printed commemorative folder
- Not legal tender
- Made in the United States
- Single-sided printing