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Illness and impaired vision have compelled Rudolph Blaschka, 80 year old glass-worker of Hosterwitz, Germany and creator of the whole of Harvard's collection of glass flowers, to cease active work. This means that the collection has probably reached its final form, the annual report of Oakes Ames '98, Director of the Botanical Museum, disclosed Saturday.
Began in 1887
In 1887, shortly after the establishment of the Botanical Museum, George Lincoln Goodale, professor of Botany and first Curator of the Museum, was looking for a concrete exhibit to give the museum a firm start. He heard of the work of Leopold Blaschka, Rudolph's father, and went over to Hosterwitz. On the mantel were two models of orchids.
At first the Blaschkas hesitated to give all their time to making flowers for Harvard, but in 1889 Mrs. Charles Eliot Ware and her daughter, Miss Mary Lee Ware, decided to finance the collection with a fund in memory of Charles Eliot Ware of the Class of 1834, and the Blaschkas worked full time.
Process a Secret
Since the death of the elder Blaschka in 1895, Rudolph alone has completed the collection of some 720 models of flowering plants, and over 3,000 sections and magnified details. The last shipment, consisting of 15 fruit models, arrived in September, 1936. Since he employed no assistants, and has kept secret the process by which he and his father spun the delicately colored models, there is no successor to Rudolph Blaschka in sight.
Professor Ames reported that "a prolonged illness, and impaired vision brought about by the exacting nature of his art, have compelled Mr. Blaschka to cease work indefinitely. Indeed it is doubtful that he will add materially to the collection to which he has devoted the major part of a long life. It is gratifying to report that Mr. Blaschka may look forward to a comfortable retirement through the generous terms of Miss Mary Lee Ware's bequest to the Botanic Museum.
Miss Ware left a fund of $300,000 to support Rudolph Blaschka and his wife, to preserve the collection, and to pay the museum staff.
Attracted chiefly by the glass flowers, more than 200,000 visitors a year inspect the displays in the museum.
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