Astronomical Diagram Cards
James Reynolds, London: 19th Century

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Reynolds Cards Reynolds Cards
Reynolds Cards Reynolds Cards
John Emslie (1813-75) (artist and engraver)
Astronomical Diagram Cards
James Reynolds, 174 Strand, London: 1846 (and later, but all 19th Century)
Hand-colored engravings on card, some with tissue insets
11.5 x 9 inches each (average approximate size)
$250 to $450 each;
please inquire as to current availability

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Chart of the Heavens Shewing [sic.] the Stars Visible on any Night Throughout the Year
Stars visible to the eye throughout the year with spandrel illustrations of star formations and nebulae and a key showing various star magnitudes. Stars indicated by punched holes backed with tissue paper.

Transparent Solar System, Displaying the Planets with their Orbits, as Known at the Present Day
This depiction of the solar system shows the orbits of the eight planets known at the time, up to Uranus.  The orbits are drawn as circles, though an elliptical orbit is depicted to illustrate “the eccentric orbits of the asteroids or minor planets.”  The orbit of Halley’s Comet is also included. Various celestial bodies are indicated as punched holes, tissue backed and variously colored.

The Central Sun, and Theory of the Stellar Universe.
Conceptual illustration of the Milky Way galaxy filled with stars.  Large stars at the center of the Milky Way are indicated as punched holes with tissue backing.

Eclipses.  The Theory of the Tides.
The relative positions of the sun, moon, and earth are shown to demonstrate how they cause eclipses and tides. 

Various principles of astronomy are demonstrated in this fine set of charts and diagrams.  Among the subjects, each treated on a card, are stars and constellations, revolution of the earth around the sun (relating to eclipses and seasons), the moon, and comets.  Some of the cards have colored tissue paper insets in cutout holes that illuminate the illustrations to mimic the night sky when the card is held in front of a light source.

James Reynolds responded to the popular demand for information on the developments taking place in science and engineering as a result of the Industrial Revolution by publishing diagrams, charts, maps and atlases.  Many of the cards were drawn and engraved by John Emslie, also British.  The cards were issued singly (some bearing the price of 1 shilling) or in sets, some reissued from time to time with changes in design or publishers. 

In addition to J. Reynolds, the names and addresses of other publishers variously appear on the cards, including G. Musgrave, Turnham Green; Ackermann & Co., Strand; Reeves & Son, Cheapside; Rock & Co.; and Peacock and Mansfield.  Some cards also bear the name of James Reynolds’ successor James Reynolds and Sons which continued publishing through at least 1889.  Similar astronomy cards were also published in the 1850s by L. Preyssinger of Stuttgart, Germany under the title Astronomischer Bilder-Atlas.

Reynolds and Emslie’s first collaboration was the astronomical diagrams, copyrighted 1846, issued singly or in sets of 9 or 12, and often reissued. Another large scientific work of Reynolds and Emslie was Illustrations of Natural Philosophy – Popular Diagrams.  This was variously issued with 44 scientific teaching diagrams on geology, geography, astronomy, physics, optics, chemistry, mechanics, and other related sciences and technologies (c. 1850-64 and later).  Reynolds also published a series of larger scientific prints, called Large Illustrations of Science, apparently designed to be hung on classroom walls, including Principles of Hydrostatics (London: 1873).   Finally, Reynolds published a number of atlases of England, Britain and London, often reprinted throughout the second half of the 19th century, including Reynolds's Travelling Atlas of England (1848) and Reynolds's Geological Atlas of Great Britain (1860 and later).  Reynolds’ educational diagrams received a prize medal at the International Exhibition of 1862. 

Condition:  Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear.  Some with light soiling from handling, chipped or bumped corners.  Paper tone may vary from card to card.


Coakely, Frances. “John Emslie 1848.”  2004. (19 April 2005).

“Two Meteorological Maps, c. 1850.” Science & Society Picture Library.  2004. (19 April 2005).

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