"there be dragons" ("jenny hanivers")

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 31 19:44:21 UTC 2012

Intriguing topic, Joel. A PDF of The Scientific Monthly article
mentioned is available in JSTOR.

Title: Jenny Hanivers, Dragons and Basilisks in the Old Natural
History Books and in Modern Times
Author: E. W. Gudger
The Scientific Monthly , Vol. 38, No. 6 (Jun., 1934), pp. 511-523
Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/15490

The article above says Gilbert P. Whitley wrote an article on this
topic and published it in Australian Museum Magazine. A Google Books
preview of the book "Mysterious creatures: a guide to cryptozoology"
(2002) gives the following citation information. I have not checked
this but there is a substantial probability that this is a cite for
the earliest match Joel mentions:

Gilbert P. Whitley, “Jenny Hanivers,” Australian Museum Magazine 3
(1928): 262–264

I came across a fully visible 1963 citation in the Internet Archive
while trying to determine the cites above:

Shadows in the sea: the sharks, skates and rays (1963)

[Begin excerpt on Page 251]
The monstrosities were brought home (Europe, the United States) by
sailors who bought them there. Sailors were seldom fishermen in ports
where they could have caught them. Dr. Gilbert P. Whitley, the
Australian ichthyologist, says that this trade has been going on for
hundreds of years. The curios, peddled as Monkey Fish, Dragons,
Basilisks, Mermaids, or Sea Eagles, are sometimes called "Jenny
Hanivers" by seafarers.
[End excerpt]


On Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 1:44 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "there be dragons" ("jenny hanivers")
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In a region of the seas not yet re-examined by the OED (the Js),
> there be jenny hanivers.  (Wikipedia: A Jenny Haniver is the carcass
> of a <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajiformes>ray or a
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajidae>skate which has been modified
> and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen.)
> Earliest I see in Google Books:
> The Australian Museum Magazine, vol. 3, allegedly 1927.  (Vol. 1 is
> Apr. 1921, according to the Harvard catalog.)  Snippet.
> p. 263:  "I have been unable to learn the source of the name Jenny
> Haniver. Perhaps it belonged to some second-sighted fishwife who long ago ..."
> p. 264:  "... a skate with malformed pectorals, but I am inclined to
> regard it as a Jenny Haniver, fantastically incised perhaps by some
> cunning alchemist and vigorously depicted by a skillful artist. The
> figure is copied here, as is also one of a more normal Jenny Hanivr
> which was associated with it on the same plate in Aldrovandus' ancient work."
> And 1934, from The Scientific Monthly, vol. 38, and Time, vol. 23,
> part 2.  Also allegedly and snippets.
> In use in the 2000s, including it seems in 5 different books by Philip Reeve.
> Joel
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