Atlantic Coast Camellia Society

American Camellia Catalog

Purple Gown
C. reticulata 'Purple Gown'

Published 1949 - 1953

Robert Park Erdman - Publisher

Albert Fendig - Technical Editor

Athos Menaboni - Artist

About the American Camellia Catalog

The purpose of the American Camellia Catalog was to provide a means of identification of unknown varieties and to standardize a naming convention for these varieties. Previously there were two or more names for many of the varieties commonly sold or displayed. The American Camellia Catalog described 475 japonica, 57 sasanqua, 18 reticulata, 9 hybrid, 1 maliflora and 1 saluenensis varieties. The descriptions included a preferred name, synonyms, a description of the bloom, foilage traits and a history of the variety.

In addition, 120 of these varieties were illustrated with beautiful life-size, hand colored lithographs by Italian-American artist Athos Menaboni.  The hand coloring was done by students from the University of Georgia. These lithographs were published in yearly installments from 1949 through 1953 (24 were sent each year for 5 years) and were sold by subscription in a loose leaf compendium.  The printing was limited to 1000 copies.  While the initial purpose of the American Camellia Catalog is of historical significance, today they mainly are remembered for the beautiful lithographs generated under this project.  As a total work they are unsurpassed and individual lithographs are some of the best ever produced.

A WorldCatcheck reveals that the American Camellia Catalog is in the rare books collection of twenty-two libraries throughout the United States.  Recently a full set of the American Camellia Catalog sold for £2000 ($3225) in England, demonstrating its appeal worldwide.  More details of the American Camellia Catalog can be found in the 1993 American Camellia Society Yearbook article aptly titled American Camellia Catalog.

HOW LITHOGRAPHS ARE PRODUCED - Lithography is a facinating, complex, multistage process which would take many pages to adequately describe.  The word lithography comes from the Greek words lithos, "stone" and graphein, "to write".  It was developed in Germany in 1796 by Alois Senefelder. Printing is done from lithographic limestone or from a metal plate. If you are interested in the lithography, you can find out more about the process at Wikipediaor if you want a more complete explaination go to the excellent YouTube Video*.

The above describes how to produce a black and white lithograph. The lithographs produced in the American Camellia Catalog are all "hand colored". In the late 1940's and early 1950's this term literally meant exactly what it says. An artist or team of artists individually hand colored each black and white lithograph. Normally the paper used for lithographs was very flat and dense and had a high cotton content. The individual artist or team of artists would use water colors to individually paint in the colors.  This would be done under the strict supervision of the original artist.  Each lithograph produced by this time-consuming process would therefore be unique and reflect the talents of not only the original artist, Athos Menaboni, but the individual technicians who produced the initial black and white lithograph and the unnamed artist(s) who did the actual coloring. When you look at the camellia lithographs carefully, you can see the differences in the quality of individual lithographs.  This is probably a reflection of the talents of the individual artists who participated in the process.


Copyright 1949 by American Camellia Catalog
220 East Bay Street, Savannah, Georgia

Hall Printing Co., High Point, N.C.
Kennickell Printing Co., Savannah, Ga.
Foote & Davies, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
Wm. W. Hinnant & Associates, Savannah, Ga.

The American Camellia Catalog and Copyright Law

All the lithographs in the American Camellia Catalog are covered by U. S. Copyright Law of 1953.  As such these lithographs are for the viewing pleasure of people who enjoy looking at beautiful art objects.  No downloading or copying is permitted.  Realizing the historical significance of the important work, Albert Fendig, III, the son of one of the original co-authors, has graciously permitted the Atlantic Coast Camellia Society permission to display these beautiful pictures of camellias on our website.  Rather than put a watermark on each lithograph, the individual lithographs were copied at 730 x 1024 pixels.  This size is adequate for website viewing, but not adequate for quality reproduction.  Please abide by the copyright.  Thank you.


Lori_Clevenger-2754 American Camellia Catalog - Part I
'Adolphe Audusson' - 'Hana-Fuki'

Kute_Kate-2724 American Camellia Catalog - Part II
'Herme' - 'Mrs. Josephine M. Hearn'

Pops_Perfection-2755 American Camellia Catalog - Part III
'Nagasaki' - 'Yuki-Botan'

Sporting_Class-2757 American Camellia Catalog - Nomenclature
369 Varieties - 'Abundance' - 'Yuki-Botan'


Robert Park Erdman (1898-1955)

Of the three co-auathors of the American Camellia Catalog, the least amount of information is available about the life of Robert Park Erdman. He was born in 1898 and received an appointment (from Pennsylvania) to the U. S. Naval Academy in 1916. Upon graduation he embarked upon his career as a naval officer - ultimately achieving the rank of Commander. He was the sole author of The Reserve Officer's Manual, United States Navyin 1932 and co-author of The U.S.S. Memphis Crosses the Line- A description of the ceremony when the ship crossed the equator in 1933. At the end of World War II Erdman was the commander of the USS Towner- a Tolland Class Attack Cargo Ship.  Robert Park Erdman of Savannah, Georgia died in 1955, not long after the final subscription of the American Camellia Catalog was completed.

Albert Fendig (1906-1990)

Albert Fendig, Jr. was born in Brunswick, Georgia. He was the son of Albert Fendig, Sr. of Renesselaer, Indiana and Rosalie Borchordt Fendig of Brunswick, Georgia. Albert attended Harvard University. He began his career as a lawyer in 1930 and practiced independently until 1951 when he bacame a member of the law firm of Gowen, Conyers, Fendig and Dickey, except for a hiatus when he served in the U. S. Navy as a Commander from 1941 through 1945. Albert was very active in his community in the Boy Scouts. He was a long-time trustee of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. He was the author of numerous articles on camellias and named several new varieties of camellias. He was a member of the International Nomenclature Committee.

Athos Menaboni (1895-1990)

Athos Menaboni was born in Livorno, Italy to Jenny Neri and Averardo Menaboni. He was a raised in a prosperous family and educated as an artist. He served as a sharpshooter and a pilot in Italy’s armed forces during World War I. After the war he immigrated to the United States in 1921, living in New York City and Tampa, Florida. Eventually, in 1927, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia. While there he met Sara Arnold (from Rome, Georgia), the niece of his landlord. They married in 1928 and remained in Atlanta the rest of their lives.

His early work included murals in homes and in public buildings across Georgia, but Athos always had a love of nature and birds in particular. In 1937 Menaboni painted a cardinal from memory. The painting was quickly sold to a client and thus opened a whole new career path. In 1941 Athos and Sara moved to Sandy Springs, Georgia where he had an aviary and studied birds in detail. Menaboni was inspired by John James Audubon; however, he preferred to observe live birds rather than their carcasses as Audubon did. The height of his career was in the 1940s and 1950s when his work on birds was widely distributed on lithographs and used in advertising. In 1950 he and his wife published Menaboni’s Birds. He also illustrated the bird section in The World Book Encyclopedia and his art appeared in such magazines as Sports Illustrated and The Progressive Farmer as well as many other publications.

For a more complete biography of this wonderful artist, the reader is referred to The New Georgia Encyclopedia.

* Information about this link was provided by Holly Morrison of Virginia Commenwealth University.
**The Original Prints were loaned to the ACCS by Richard Mims of Lugoff, South Carolina and by Troup County Archives in La Grange, Georgia