Saturday, June 1, 2013


What is a cameleopard?  I saw a funny spotted animal on a small plate owned by my friend Dora Landey.  Perhaps it was an imaginary creature like a unicorn.  When I did a bit of googling, I discovered that "cameleopard" was the old name for a giraffe.  The ancient Romans used the word and so did the British in the 19th century.  The scientific name for the giraffe is Giraffa Camelopardalis.  Eventually it was called a giraffe after the Arabic word "zirafah" which means "tallest of them all." 

"Cameleopard" 4.25 inch plate with a molded border of alternating animals and birds

The source print for the Cameleopard is probably copied from Georges-Louis LeClerc Comte de Buffon's (1707-1788) "Histoire Naturelle" (1749-1788, in 36 volumes).  Buffon was a French naturalist who greatly influenced the study of natural history.

"The Cameleopard" from Buffon's 18th century work "Histoire Naturelle"
 I liked the cameleopard plate so much that I used it to represent the letter "X" in my book, "Dishy Animals ABC."  I couldn't find an "X" animal, so I used the word "Exotic."  The cameleopard (giraffe) was definitely an exotic animal in the 19th century.

"X" from "Dishy Animals ABC"
You can read more about my book here:

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