Trilobites as Gingerbread Molds
Irena Jancarikova & Ivo Chlupac
Charles University, Prague
The Museum of Bohemian Karst in the town of Beroun southwest of Prague (Barrandian area, Czech Republic) possesses in its ethnographical collections two gingerbread molds in the form of trilobites. The first mold (Figure 1) is made of nut wood, measuring 22 by 11 cm. It represents a precisely cut exoskeleton of the Lower Devonian trilobite Odontochile rugosa Hawle and Corda, 1847. The carved image corresponds closely to actual specimens -- only the pygidial border is lacking. The second mold (Figure 2) is made of lime wood, measuring 16.5 by 8.5 cm. It was probably also based on an exoskeleton of Odontochile, but the model appears to have been a counterfeit specimen made by assembling a retouched cephalon and an incomplete thorax and pygidium. Such counterfeits were commonly produced by quarrymen in the Beroun district during the last decade of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and sold to gullible private collectors who were largely interested in complete specimens.
These two wooden trilobite gingerbread molds are true rarities. They exemplify the deep-rooted tradition of trilobite collecting in the Barrandian area -- a tradition here seen to extend into everyday objects in the life of the local people.