Potu Art Sources

This post is part of collections on Potu: Underground Adventures and Public Domain Art.

I released a game called Potu at Autumn Game Market 2019 that relied extensively on public domain art. This is a list of all the art used in the location cards in the game, with explanations of the sources, many of which I was basically unaware of at the time Potu went to print. Digging up the details of all the sources was a lot of fun, I hope you enjoy! And thanks to all the organizations that make this art available.

If you'd like a copy of Potu, please be in touch, as I still have a few left over.

  1. Energy Flasks: Scent flasks from 18th century Italy. via the Met
  2. Strange Statue: Water pitcher in the shape of Aristotle and Phyllis. The story of how the wise Aristotle was driven mad with lust for Phyllis was a popular story in the Middle Ages about the dangers of uninhibited passion, so there are actually many similar sculptures from the period. via the Met
  3. Thorny Seed: Indonesian ear clip with a makara motif. A makara is a mythical Hindu creature, part aquatic, part terrestrial. via the Met
  4. Dragon Loop: A dragon pendant from 3rd century China. via the Met
  5. Golden Servant: A masked figure pendant from the Yotoco culture of Colombia. via the Met
  1. Traveller's Set: An 18th century "nécessaire", this carried a variety of toiletries. via the Met
  2. Tempest Prognosticator: The actual Tempest Prognosticator was a device to predict the weather using leeches. This is a "skeleton clock" that bears a passing resemblance to it. via the Met
  3. Giant Idol: This drawing by Frederick Catherwood depicts an idol at Copán. via Old Book Illustrations
  4. Clock Beetle: A Swiss watch from roughly 1850. via the Met
  5. Bone Game: The best-preserved copy of the "Game of Hounds and Jackals" from ancient Egypt. The exact rules are unclear. via the Met
  1. Petrosphere: Mysterious carved stone balls have been found all over Scotland, but nobody knows what they were for. via Wikipedia
  2. Tree of Knowledge: In 1558 Jost Amman designed a non-standard set of playing cards, including a suit of books. This is the 3 of Books. via the now dead spamula.net, found (probably?) via BibliOdyssey
  3. The Vegetable Lamb: Early reports of cotton were deeply misunderstood, leading to tales of the "vegetable lamb of Tartary" or Barometz. This particular image is widely circulated and I'm not sure where I got this copy.
  4. Green Gardens: A photograph taken at the Villa Torlonia in Italy in 1925. Extensively bombed in WW2, it's unclear if these stairs still exist, but the villa is currently a public park and you can walk it on Google Maps. via Library of Congress
  5. Endless Stair: Another Catherwood illustration, this is the Well of Bolonchen in Mexico. via Old Book Illustrations
  1. Royal Fountain: This is an engraving of the Silver Tree of Karakorum, in Mongolia, from a 13th century book of travels. via the Public Domain Review
  2. Blue Cave: The Blue Grotto of Capri, via the Library of Congress Flickr
  3. Hall of Wonders: This is a picture of Soane's Museum, invoking the more general notion of a Cabinet of Curiosities. via The Public Domain Review
  4. Serpent Gate: Another Catherwood illustration, this is the Teocallis of Uxmal. via Old Book Illustrations
  5. Strange Formula: This rosette from roughly 1630 bears the name and title of Emperor Aurangzeb. via The Met
  1. Mushroom Forest: This is from Journey to the Center of the Earth, illustrated by Edouard Riou. via Wikimedia
  2. Lake of Monsters: Illustration from "Nature and the Bible" by John William Dawson, a Canadian Geologist and creationist. In this particular illustration he associates the dinosaurs with "Tanninim of the Fifth Day". via the Internet Archive Books Project
  3. Deep Machine: An Extra Heavy 7-Foot Boring Mill with Triple Gearing, this could be used to make locomotive tires. via the Internet Archive Books Project
  4. Harbor Cavern: This is from an article in the first British Argosy about the Wieliczka salt mine. This mine is actually rather extensively described in the Tokyo Salt and Tobacco Museum. via the Internet Archive Books Project
  5. An Encounter: This is an illustration from the novel that introduced Potu, Niels Klim's Underground Journey. via Project Gutenberg.
  1. An Audience: Another Potu illustration, also via Project Gutenberg.
  2. A Triumph in Potu: As above.
  3. Fashion in Potu: As above.
  4. Food in Potu: As above.
  5. A Feast!: This image was found via the BibliOdyssey post on Potu, and then acquired from the source through that.
  1. Underground Music: This is also via the Bibliodyssey post.
  2. A Funeral: As above, via Gutenberg.
  3. Revolution!: An illustration from Master Humphrey's Clock, a magazine written entirely by Charles Dickens. via the Internet Archive Books Project
  4. The Giant of Potu: I thought this was Gulliver, but it's actually Charles Dickens surrounded by his characters. via the Internet Archive Books Project
  5. Crystal Egg: A cup with lid. Originally practical (or at least ceremonially used), it was later converted to a reliquary. via The Met
  1. Crystal Dove: A 16th-century rock crystal sculpture from Germany. via The Met
  2. Flask of Moonlight: A 19th-century Chinese snuff bottle with a stylized 壽 for longevity. This particular varian has its own Unicode character, 🉢. via The Met
  3. Crystal Head: A 19th century bust of a Medici. via The Met
  4. Crystal Head: This is a reliquary that used to contain the skull of Saint Yrieix. It would have been paraded through the streets during festivals. The particular region of France this relic is from has a tradition of saving the skulls of saints in this fashion. via The Met
  5. Treasure Map: This powder horn from Colonial America has a map of the Hudson and Mohawk valleys carved on it. via The Met
  1. Treasure Map: A 1720 map of Greece and the surrounding area. via The Met
  2. Treasure Map: I assumed this map was from a work of fiction, but it's actually from The Arcturus Adventure, a book about a 1920s zoological expedition to the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. via Biodiversity Heritage Library
  3. Treasure Map: This is a 1721 illustration of the mythical Pyramids of Moeris by Fischer von Erlach. Moeris is a real place, and Herodotus claimed to have seen two pyramids there, though he seems to have been confused about the details. via Archive of Affinities
  4. Lamp of Darkness: This is called the Rothschild Lamp after the family that possessed it for many years. It was made around 1510 in Italy by Riccio, a master metalworker. via The Met
  5. Deep Sphinx: This oil lamp was probably from the workshop of Riccio, but has many fewer details than 44. via The Met
  1. Subterranean Devils: Another illustration from "Master Humphrey's Clock." via Internet Archive Books Project
  2. Abyssal Signs: This is a detail from a catalog of pins. via Internet Archive Books Project
  3. Ritual of the Snake: This is an illustration from a novel called "The Lost Gold of the Montezumas: a story of the Alamo, etc" by William Osborn Stoddard. While in his later life he was a prolific author of boys' adventure novels, before that he was a personal associate to Abraham Lincoln and made the first copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Strangely the illustrator is not credited by name, but a signature seems to read Stephens, and it may be Charles H. Stephens or Charles A. Stephens, roughly contemporaneous illustrators with a focus on Native Americans. via the British Library
  4. Atlantean Orb: An anonymous 19th century French ornament design. via The Met
  5. Atlantean Chalice: This cup is from the second half of the 19th century and listed as "probably German", and that's all the info on it. via The Met
  6. Atlantean Drachma: This is not a coin but a bronze sculpture roughly 25cm across, featuring Neptune. From around 1520 in Italy. via The Met