The Art of Book Design: Sneewittchen (Snow White)

Grimm, Jakob / Grimm, Wilhelm: Sneewittchen / [Jakob und Wilhelm Grimm.] Gezeichnet von Franz Jüttner. – (Scholz’ Künstler-Bilderbücher ; 6). Mainz 1905. Scholz.

The first Saturday of December could belong to none other than the original frozen princess, Snow White. And I found her in her native German and well before Walt Disney put his big cartoon hands around her tiny little waist. The Brothers Grimm first told the tale of Snow White in 1812 as part of a collection of European folk stories. No-one is sure of its provenance, but according to a scholar from Lohr, Bavaria, there is evidence to suggest that Snow White is derived from the true story of Maria Sophia VonErthal. (via ancient

According to a study group in Lohr, Bavaria, Snow White is based on Maria Sophia von Erthal, born on 15 June, 1729 in Lohr am Main, Bavaria. She was the daughter of 18 th century landowner, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife, Baroness von Bettendorff.
After the death of the Baroness, Prince Philipp went onto marry Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, Countess of Reichenstein, who was said to dislike her stepchildren. The castle where they lived, now a museum, was home to a ‘talking mirror’, an acoustical toy that could speak (now housed in the Spessart Museum). The mirror, constructed in 1720 by the Mirror Manufacture of the Electorate of Mainz in Lohr, had been in the house during the time that Maria’s stepmother lived there.

The dwarfs in Maria’s story are also linked to a mining town, Bieber, located just west of Lohr and set among seven mountains. The smallest tunnels could only be accessed by very short miners, who often wore bright hoods, as the dwarfs have frequently been depicted over the years.
The Lohr study group maintain that the glass coffin may be linked to the region’s famous glassworks, while the poisoned apple, may be associated with the deadly nightshade poison that grows in abundance in Lohr.

A German historian has also postulated that it may be the true story of Margarete VonWaldeck. (via ancient

According to Sander, the character of Snow White was based on the life of Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess born to Philip IV in 1533. At the age of 16, Margarete was forced by her stepmother, Katharina of Hatzfeld to move away to Wildungen in Brussels. There, Margarete fell in love with a prince who would later become Phillip II of Spain.
Margarete’s father and stepmother disapproved of the relationship as it was ‘politically inconvenient’. Margarete mysteriously died at the age of 21, apparently having been poisoned. Historical accounts point to the King of Spain, who opposing the romance, may have dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete.
So what about the seven dwarfs? Margarete’s father owned several copper mines that employed children as quasi-slaves. The poor conditions caused many to die at a young age, but those that survived had severely stunted growth and deformed limbs from malnutrition and the hard physical labour. As a result, they were often referred to as the ‘poor dwarfs’.

Whether true or not, the story has persisted into modern times thanks to Walt Disney and his 1937 classic telling of the tale. I’ve included the artwork done by Franz Juttner, a German artist, in 1905 for the Sneewittchen book pictured above.

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Jack’s Walk

A new friend for Jack? ©voyager, all rights reserved

When we walk around our neighbourhood during the day, Jack and I have a regular route. We walk up to the high school, then down toward the park and then loop around back to the far end of our own street and then it’s a straight line to home again. This route is Jack’s choice because it gives him the best chance of getting a few love pats along the way. The walk takes us past his teenaged fan club and the home of his best dog friend, Leo. It also allows me to avoid problems because I know where all the other dogs live along the route. Most dogs are friendly and get along well with Jack, but there are one or two exceptions. There’s a Jack Russell at the end of our block who strains at his leash snarling and barking at Jack madly. We only know him as “Shut-up you bastard,” but I’m sure he has another name. I’d stop to ask except he won’t stop barking long enough to speak to his person, a frail elderly man who likes to holler. There’s also Izzy, a pug, who wants to challenge Jack. Jack picked him up once and spat him out again, without injury I should add, but it only made Izzy more determined to get Jack. So now, we always cross the street to avoid him. Izzy has a great person named Linda who Jack and I both like, but she understands that Izzy has issues and always controls him from her side of the street. Recently, though, neighbours a few blocks down have gotten a new dog, and it barks at us every day no matter what time we go by. It’s always at the window, I imagine because his people work and he is watching for them. The new dog not only barks, but he jumps around a lot, occasionally banging into the window. Jack says he wants to be friends and tells me that we should knock on their door one evening to meet him when his people are at home. I think we should wait until spring, when the new dog is more settled and we can meet casually outdoors. I tell Jack that not everyone wants a voyager at their door with an 85-pound hairy goofball, asking if their dog can come out to play. Jack says he can’t understand why, and furrow’s his brow at me. Sheesh, alright, Bubba! Maybe I’ll go alone to take them a few Christmas cookies and check the situation out. If they’re agreeable, perhaps I’ll take Jack for a playdate. I think the new dog does look like a fun sort of fellow, just look at that smile, and its barking and antics do seem more playful than aggressive. Who knows, maybe Leo has some competition for the title of Jack’s Best Friend?

Fungi Friday

Avalus has been photographing some delicate mushrooms for us.

Mushrooms. With the end of October, Mainz remembered it was once woodland and mushrooms popped up everywhere.

Mushroomates ©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Mushroom’s end ©Avalus, all rights reserved



Jack’s Walk

Bubba’s growing hair like a buffalo.

Today, Jack and I encountered a new danger with the ice. Instead of worrying about falling on the ice, today, we were worried about the ice falling on us. It’s a bit above zero today, and all the ice on the trees is starting to melt and let go. Throughout our entire walk, we heard the ice cracking overhead and saw pieces of ice fall around us. Twice I was hit in the head with small pieces, and by the time we got home, I was getting nervous that a more substantial chunk might get me. Even Jack was getting a bit antsy, which surprised me. Typically, Jack is calm about things falling around him. Once, in the kitchen, I dropped a large pot full of cold water and carrots right beside him. It made a colossal clatter, and water and carrot pieces flew around Jack like a cartoon explosion. It was theatrically spectacular, and it made me jump, but  Jack didn’t flinch. Nope, instead, he waited a second or two and then started to eat the carrots closest to him. He said he was helping me clean-up. So a few bits of ice falling are nothing compared to that. Perhaps he’s just used to things falling in the kitchen. It often happens, although not usually on the scale of dropping an entire pot, but Jack knows that the kitchen is a place where things unexpectedly fall. Things falling outdoors is unusual and kinda strange, and mummy doesn’t like it. Even though my leash handling doesn’t change, Jack can feel all my shit through the leash, and I vice versa. It’s part of how we talk to each other. So, I knew Bubba was feeling a bit on edge. At about the halfway point of our walk around the neighbourhood, we sped up as much as the ice beneath our feet would allow. And we were both grateful when we spied our own home ahead of us. We made it safely, although our own birch tree dropped a cascade of ice beside us on our way past it. This made me extra grateful because I was worried that this graceful, slender tree would lose branches with the ice, and it hasn’t. So far.

All in all, it’s good to be home. Jack wants to make cookies, and it does seem like a good day to bake. You’ll know to find us in the place where good things drop unexpectedly.

Jack’s Walk

Early December Morning, ©voyager, all rights reserved


We had a gentle, light dusting of snow this morning, and it was just enough to make the world look fresh and pretty for a while. That’s one of the things I like about winter, the way that snow covers a landscape with a coat of crisp, clean stillness. Ogden Nash says it much better than me, though, so I’ll let him.


Winter Morning Poem

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

– Ogden Nash

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, Jack and I did venture out yesterday. Twice. About 1 in the afternoon, the sun came out for an hour or so, and the sidewalks got all melty and full of slush. It seemed like a good time to go for a walk, and so we did. It was a delightful walk, too. Sloppy and cold, but not really icy. The sun started to melt the ice off the trees and the wires, but it didn’t shine long enough to raise the temp above zero, and so today, the trees are still frosted. Jack and I went out again after supper, and the sidewalk slush had turned into rough frozen ice. It wasn’t as slippery as I’d thought. The snow that covered the ice helped rough it up, and the soles of my boots were mostly able to find traction. Even Jack managed better with only 1 slip and no falls. Today the world remains frosted with ice and snow, and I love the way things look. There’s so much more light, and it reflects like millions of tiny, shiny diamonds in the glow of streetlights at night and the short glimpses of the sun today. The walking is difficult, but not dangerous. Most people have shovelled, and what ice remains is rough and well trampled. We need to go slow and shuffle a bit, but it’s so pretty outside I don’t mind.


Here’s another song for today. I sing this song when I’m on the beach ins the summer looking for sea glass because they shine like diamonds when you find them. Today the whole world is made of diamonds. And of course, we’re all as bright, and beautiful as diamonds ourselves, so let’s all shine a bit today, too.