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Bromeliad Cultivar Register

A bit of history

All photos lodged as at 31 Dec 2008 and incorporated in the new data-base are copies of the personal file of the retiring Registrar Derek Butcher.
Between 1980 and 1998 photographs or slides were lodged with each formal registration and supposedly held by the Registrar or Archivist in safe keeping. This is recommended by the ISHS. A Register is said to be an aid to Cultivar identification but if the only person to see the photographs was the Registrar, what worth were they to the Bromeliad growing public?
1998 saw the publication of the Bromeliad Cultivar Register but how good was it as an aid to Cultivar identification? With Don Beadle wanting to put the BCR on to a computer-based system readily accessible to the general public I was toying with the idea of accompanying it with photos. I already had a large file of photographs I had taken of Australian hybrids as I acquired them (The hybridists rarely did this job themselves!) I knew that Mike Andreas already had a photo file operating on Here was a fantastic opportunity to have photos linked to an on-line data-base and so it came into being. The Registration form was amended to refer to photo images.
I slowly built up my personal file of jpegs that I kept purposely at about 50-100k each to save space and deter copying for personal printing purposes. I sent copies to Mike for him to post to the photo file. Meanwhile I was on the hunt for the photographs lodged with the BSI in the period 1980-1998 only to find that 90% had been lost or destroyed. Here, a few older BSI members did have personal photographs in similar fashion to myself and were prepared to share them with me. I won’t mention names because I might miss someone out but I am forever grateful for their help. I faced many problems in trying to convince old hybridists while they were living, that their old photographs were really worth something to others. For example, it will probably go down in history that James Elmore was a great volume hybridist and photographer. The family were so interested in arguing over who got the assets, the photographs became inaccessible and I only ever got 3 photos!
And so my photo file held in trust, grew and grew. It was copies from this file that were sent annually to the BSI Archivist . It was copies that were sent annually to the Kew Librarian so that the ISHS knew what we were doing. As I explained, we could print hardcopy in the form of thumbnail prints at any time to satisfy their requirement for registration but who would be responsible for holding 10,000 photos? We already cover their requirement that a Register must be published, by doing so at the biennial World Conferences. In 2008 we saw an abridged TOTAL file published.
A copy of my photo-file was forwarded on to Geoff Lawn who will hold it in trust for the next Registrar. Why are there so many copies? I felt there was a lesson to be learnt from the 90% loss of photos between 1980 and 1998.

Finally a word on copyright of photos. Only a few photo-images have been noted by the photographer as being copyright and this caption has been copied faithfully. Remember that the original photo would still be held by the sender, and only a copy sent to me to hold in trust. 99% of photos lodged were not named or identified and this was done by me in my own code to save space and time. Between 2000 and 2007 captions were added by Mike Andreas for the photo file because I did not have the software. Captions only occur in my file from 2007 onwards.

Derek Butcher

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