Wonderfully weird 2022 calendars from 1898 originals now available

The wonderfully weird Antikamnia calendars, published between 1897 and 1901 by the Antikamnia Chemical Company of St. Louis, feature colorful skeletons in humorous or whimsical scenes. This year, we are re-printing the 1898 calendar from Becker Library’s archival collections in the form of a 2022 calendar. The reproduction comes from the 1898 calendar because the days and dates align with 2022, making it a functional calendar for the year ahead!

The reproductions are 11×15 inches, with one imaginative skeleton illustration featured for every two months of the year. Calendars can be purchased for $10 (now $5) and proceeds will be donated to families in need in the St. Louis community through the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation Holiday Outreach Program.

How to Purchase a Calendar

We are no longer selling the 2022 calendars. Please contact Carter Staley at staley@wustl.edu if you have questions about your order.

About the Illustrator

The skeletal sketches featured in the Antikamnia Calendars were created by Dr. Louis Crusius (1862-1898), and are among a handful of his artwork included in the Louis Crusius Artifacts collection at the Becker Library.

Portrait of Crusius
Dr. Louis Crusius

As a teenager, Crusius served as a printer’s apprentice to his father who published the German Daily newspaper in Wisconsin. However, it wasn’t until he began working at his uncle’s drugstore that he started to create humorous medical illustrations. At the age of 18, he moved to St. Louis to study at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation in 1882, he became part-owner of the drugstore Scheel and Crusius at the corner of 14th and Clark Avenue with his brother-in-law, Gustav Scheel.

The windows of his drugstore always featured an assortment of his watercolor sketches, and he added new ones each week. While working as a pharmacist, Crusius began taking medical school courses at the St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons. He graduated with his medical doctorate in 1890 and began working as a private physician. Although he no longer had time to work at the drugstore, he supplemented his private practice income by serving as a professor of histology at the Marion Sims Medical College, a precursor to the St. Louis University Medical Department.

Throughout his short life, Crusius created hundreds of humorous medical illustrations that ultimately led to the publication of “The Funny Bone” in 1893. This compilation of 150 of his drawings caught the attention of several advertising companies and also led to a few of his sketches appearing in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His most famous pieces, known as the skeleton sketches, were published by the Antikamnia Chemical Company of St. Louis.

The Funny Bone Cover

The Antikamnia calendars were published each year between 1897 and 1901 and were sent to doctor’s offices to promote the company’s medicinal tablets for reducing fever and relieving pain. The local medical community prized these colorful calendars, so, despite their limited publication, many survive today. In 1898, Crusius died unexpectedly at the age of 36. Several of his sketches, and a few of the Antikamnia calendars, were published after his death.

NOTE: The November/December calendar page from the original 1898 calendar has been substituted for the purposes of this printed reproduction as it included potentially offensive and harmful content. An image from another year’s Antikamnia calendar is used in its place. The Antikamnia calendars in their original form, which reflect the attitudes, ideas, and norms of the era and culture in which they were created, may be viewed in person or online from the Becker Archives.