The Evil Orchid Bookplate Contest


Bookplate by Denis Kostromitin.

Following the recent postings of covers and illustrations from Der Orchideengarten, Will at A Journey Round My Skull posts the results of his Evil Orchid Bookplate Contest which encouraged illustrators to create an Orchideengarten-styled bookplate design. You can see the winner and many other splendid entries on his pages. I fully intended to do something for this then got sidetracked by work on the Alice in Wonderland calendar but I’ve picked out a couple of the (inevitably) black-and-white pieces which I thought stood out. The death’s-head moth on @ndy paciorek’s picture below makes a convenient link with yesterday’s post.

Meanwhile, there’s further Orchideengarten goodness over at Arthur Magazine.


Bookplate by @ndy paciorek.

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Der Orchideengarten

Der Orchideengarten illustrated


Halloween approaches and as a precursor it’s a great pleasure to be able to post a selection of interior illustrations from Der Orchideengarten, courtesy of Will at A Journey Round My Skull. Der Orchideengarten was a German magazine of weird fiction which ran for 51 issues from 1919 to 1921 and whose existence today is rarely acknowledged despite being credited as the world’s first fantasy magazine. Information is scarce and these scans come from Will’s own copies which is why I’ve posted fifteen more below the fold; you can’t see this stuff anywhere else. A Journey Round My Skull featured some covers and a different set of interior illustrations earlier this year, and there should be a new post complementing this one with more of the magazine’s stunning cover designs.


What strikes me about these black-and-white drawings is how different they are in tone to the pulp magazines which followed shortly after in America and elsewhere. They’re at once far more adult and frequently more original than the Gothic clichés which padded out Weird Tales and lesser titles for many years. Some are almost Expressionist in style, while the Wild Hunt series below shows a distinct Goya influence. I’d love to know how the written content matches the illustrations; I suspect there’s the same difference of atmosphere and emphasis to American weird fiction as there is in the drawings.

Update: Will’s new post is Watering the Toxic Garden which will be followed on Thursday by the results of his Evil Orchid Bookplate Contest.

Click on any of these pictures for a larger version.

Continue reading “Der Orchideengarten illustrated”

Der Orchideengarten


Will at A Journey Round My Skull turned up some gold this week in the form of several covers from a German periodical, Der Orchideengarten, which ran for 51 issues from 1919 to 1921. This is generally credited as being the world’s first fantasy magazine which makes its unaccountable obscurity all the more surprising. Both Will and I first encountered the magazine in Franz Rottensteiner’s essential history of fantasy, The Fantasy Book, published by Thames & Hudson in 1978, with a US edition produced by Collier Books. As well as being a wide-ranging history, Rottensteiner’s book is profusely illustrated throughout and includes two tantalising and distinctly weird covers from Der Orchideengarten, a magazine which Rottensteiner describes as “one of the most beautiful fantasy magazines ever published.” Over the years I’ve found myself becoming thoroughly acquainted with most of the book’s contents as authors were discovered and various gaps filled. One of the few points of obscurity left was that column which describes Der Orchideengarten and those two covers. So you can perhaps appreciate the excitement at seeing more of these rare specimens brought to light.


There’s no need to repeat the history when you can read it for yourself on Will’s page and see the covers. One of the magazine editors was author Karl Hans Strobl whose collection of weird tales, Lemuria, had been published two years earlier. This monochrome copy of the cover design is by Richard Teschner, taken from one of my Art Nouveau design books where it stands out like a rather grotesque sore thumb. I don’t know if Teschner was a contributor to Der Orchideengarten but on the strength of this he should have been.

Update: Will posts some interior illustrations.

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The Great God Pan
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