Owl vs. Rabbit. Just one of many strange scenes from Eduard Hallberger’s bizarre, late 1800’s Illustrated World.

Portrait of the publisher Eduard Hallberger (1822-1880),
painting by Friedrich August von Kaulbach, 1876.

In the late 1800s, Eduard Hallberger (1822-1880), claimed to be bringing Germany all the latest “from nature and life, science and art for entertainment and instruction for the family” in his Illustrierte Welt, (Illustrated World). Instead, the magnificently bearded publisher/editor presented readers with a bizarre smorgasbord of fighting animals, fairies, sultry oriental ladies, deer (lots of deer), mythology and gloomy scenes of immense danger.

Hallberger, spoiled readers of Illustrated World with page after page of glorious, painstakingly rendered illustrations that consitute, to our modern eyes, a very slightly distorted interpretation of reality. For almost fifty years from 1853 to 1902, Illustrierte Welt, like somve kind of off-kilter, hybrid steampunk/National Geographic, pumped out this visual menagerie from its HQ in Stuttgart, to an eager to a circulation that peaked at 90,000.

Individually the images are wonderful, as a carefrully curated collection purporting to present anything resembling reality or “instruction for the family”, it does makes one wonder what kind of world Hallberger lived in and what on earth he was thinking. Money perhaps. This was extremely popular, and the magazine very successful.

Images from Heidelburg University. From issues between 1878-1892.

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