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Pads, Paws & Claws


Osteology is the science of bones. Like most of our scientific terminology, it derives from the Greek: ὀστέον ‘bones’ and λόγος ‘study’. William Plane Pycraft [1868–1942] was renowned for his work in both osteology and zoology. But it’s the rare scientist who can share their knowledge with youngsters without “talking down” to them. Pycraft was that rarity.

One of his best publications for children was Pads, Paws & Claws, which gains some of its charm from the illustrations of his near contemporary John Edwin Noble [1876–1941]. And it is bones which seem to have bonded these two men, because Noble himself wrote about the anatomy of animals as an aid to drawing them proportionately, accurately, convincingly. Pads, Paws & Claws may be the perfect collaboration. I found and bought my first copy of the book at a flea market in Rochester, Minnesota, and it was the first of several other books illustrated by Noble, including more produced with Pycraft.

I sat down one day to expand the business life of Agincourt and realized that any rural community of modest size was likely to have a veterinarian and that “P,P&C” was the near-perfect name for a veterinary practice. “Near-perfect” because the only thing missing is hooves. And so it is that northwestern Iowa acquired its animal doctors — though I can’t at the moment tell you their names. Working on it.

Suggestions are always appreciated. As is constructive criticism.

[Hard to believe this is blog entry #1499!]

PS: Most readers will know that I find “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon” to be a pessimistic point of view; it’s usually more like two or three degrees. One of Noble’s artistic predecessors and mentors was Sir Edwin Landseer [1803–1973]. Landseer’s name was passed along to the son of a friend; that child became Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, renowned Edwardian architect.

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