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Carl Linnaeus's botanical paper slips (1767-1773).

Charmantier I, Müller-Wille S - Intellect Hist Rev (2014)

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Affiliation: Department of History, University of Exeter , Exeter , UK.

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Towards the very end of his academic career, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) – best known today for his “sexual” system of plant classification and his binomial nomenclature – used little paper slips of a standard size to process information on plants and animals that reached him on a daily basis... Both volumes had nearly 600 pages; the first Mantissa alone contained 25 new genera and – as Linnaeus explained himself – “more than 400 of the rarest species, which partly have never been referred to a particular genus, and partly are completely new. ” It is likely, then, that the title rather expressed the fact that Linnaeus had failed to integrate new information into further complete and updated editions of his taxonomic works, thus reducing the value of the book... As we will see in the next part of our paper, it was Mantissa plantarum altera for which Linnaeus first used his paper slips, and the quoted passage from the preface to this book is the only instance, as far as we can see, where Linnaeus makes explicit reference to this new working method... Linnaeus initially seems to have used the paper slips much like he had used loose sheets for his Species plantarum in the late 1740s, that is, as a preparatory manuscript... In the case of specimens sent by collectors, it is often possible to relate the respective slip to the letter sent by the correspondent and to a specimen that is still preserved in Linnaeus's herbarium... On the likely assumption that Linnaeus processed information contained in letters shortly after their receipt, it is possible to conclude that Linnaeus started the process of collecting information on paper slips just after the publication of the first Mantissa in 1767, and that he did not stop using paper slips after Mantissa plantarum altera was published in 1771... In this case, a pair of slips drawn up from different sources was used over a period of more than two years to systematically collate information and settle on taxonomic assignments (Figure 3)... It is highly likely, although impossible to demonstrate conclusively, that this went along with a re-shuffling of the paper slips... Linnaeus now had two herbarium specimens carrying the same name, and a letter to Bäck on 12 September 1773 mentions that he had “received so many of this genus [i.e. Ixia] that they need close examination. ” In the course of this examination, Linnaeus apparently reached the conclusion that the two specimens of Ixia crispa actually represented different species, since he changed the trivial name of Sparrman's specimen from Ixia crispa to Ixia undulata... They bear a striking resemblance to Linnaeus's later slips (Figure 7)... It is tempting to conclude that, while cataloguing the Queen's collection, the first seeds were planted for the later independent “invention” of paper slips by Solander and Linnaeus... In the stages of Linnaeus's working process, they occupied a sort of middle ground: while the first step was to draw up a list of specimens provisionally assigned to species, the paper slips allowed Linnaeus to note down their characteristics, to compare species with each other, and to allocate names to them.

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Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in list, specimen, and card: a) Details from Carl Linnaeus, “Mutis,” 1773, p. 3, Library of the Linnean Society. The species Hydrocotyle ranunculinus is listed as numbers 65 and 66; Linnaeus confuses the name, and links the two entries by a line, indicating that they belong to the same species. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. b) Specimen of Hydrocotyle ranunculinus, LINN 332.15, Linnean Herbarium, Linnean Society. The number 65 is noted close to the root. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. c) Slip for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus. Carl Linnaeus, “Botanical Paper Slips,” Library of the Linnean Society. Note the number 65 next to Mutis's name. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. d) Entry for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in Linnaeus the Younger, “Supplementum plantarum,” Library of the Linnean Society. The text was copied out verbatim by an amanuensis from the corresponding paper slip. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. e) Hydrocotyle ranunculoides in Carl Linnaeus the Younger, Supplementum plantarum, Braunschweig, 1781, p. 177. By permission of the Linnean Society of London.
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Figure 0004: Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in list, specimen, and card: a) Details from Carl Linnaeus, “Mutis,” 1773, p. 3, Library of the Linnean Society. The species Hydrocotyle ranunculinus is listed as numbers 65 and 66; Linnaeus confuses the name, and links the two entries by a line, indicating that they belong to the same species. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. b) Specimen of Hydrocotyle ranunculinus, LINN 332.15, Linnean Herbarium, Linnean Society. The number 65 is noted close to the root. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. c) Slip for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus. Carl Linnaeus, “Botanical Paper Slips,” Library of the Linnean Society. Note the number 65 next to Mutis's name. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. d) Entry for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in Linnaeus the Younger, “Supplementum plantarum,” Library of the Linnean Society. The text was copied out verbatim by an amanuensis from the corresponding paper slip. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. e) Hydrocotyle ranunculoides in Carl Linnaeus the Younger, Supplementum plantarum, Braunschweig, 1781, p. 177. By permission of the Linnean Society of London.

Mentions: Secondly, where species descriptions were based on specimens that Linnaeus had received from correspondents, Linnaeus also specified its geographical origin and the name of the collector (see Figures 2 and 4c). In total, 342 species are attributed to a specific correspondent and collector, and the paper slips bear a total of 30 names of collectors, all of whom sent parcels of specimens, drawings, or plates of plants to Linnaeus along with their letters. Amongst the most cited are José Celestino Mutis (South America, 105 species), Johan Gerhard König (Cape of Good Hope and India, 50 species), as well as two of Linnaeus's travelling students, Carl Peter Thunberg and Anders Sparrman (Cape of Good Hope, 70 and 50 species respectively).Figure 3.


Carl Linnaeus's botanical paper slips (1767-1773).

Charmantier I, Müller-Wille S - Intellect Hist Rev (2014)

Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in list, specimen, and card: a) Details from Carl Linnaeus, “Mutis,” 1773, p. 3, Library of the Linnean Society. The species Hydrocotyle ranunculinus is listed as numbers 65 and 66; Linnaeus confuses the name, and links the two entries by a line, indicating that they belong to the same species. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. b) Specimen of Hydrocotyle ranunculinus, LINN 332.15, Linnean Herbarium, Linnean Society. The number 65 is noted close to the root. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. c) Slip for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus. Carl Linnaeus, “Botanical Paper Slips,” Library of the Linnean Society. Note the number 65 next to Mutis's name. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. d) Entry for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in Linnaeus the Younger, “Supplementum plantarum,” Library of the Linnean Society. The text was copied out verbatim by an amanuensis from the corresponding paper slip. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. e) Hydrocotyle ranunculoides in Carl Linnaeus the Younger, Supplementum plantarum, Braunschweig, 1781, p. 177. By permission of the Linnean Society of London.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Figure 0004: Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in list, specimen, and card: a) Details from Carl Linnaeus, “Mutis,” 1773, p. 3, Library of the Linnean Society. The species Hydrocotyle ranunculinus is listed as numbers 65 and 66; Linnaeus confuses the name, and links the two entries by a line, indicating that they belong to the same species. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. b) Specimen of Hydrocotyle ranunculinus, LINN 332.15, Linnean Herbarium, Linnean Society. The number 65 is noted close to the root. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. c) Slip for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus. Carl Linnaeus, “Botanical Paper Slips,” Library of the Linnean Society. Note the number 65 next to Mutis's name. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. d) Entry for Hydrocotyle ranunculinus in Linnaeus the Younger, “Supplementum plantarum,” Library of the Linnean Society. The text was copied out verbatim by an amanuensis from the corresponding paper slip. By permission of the Linnean Society of London. e) Hydrocotyle ranunculoides in Carl Linnaeus the Younger, Supplementum plantarum, Braunschweig, 1781, p. 177. By permission of the Linnean Society of London.
Mentions: Secondly, where species descriptions were based on specimens that Linnaeus had received from correspondents, Linnaeus also specified its geographical origin and the name of the collector (see Figures 2 and 4c). In total, 342 species are attributed to a specific correspondent and collector, and the paper slips bear a total of 30 names of collectors, all of whom sent parcels of specimens, drawings, or plates of plants to Linnaeus along with their letters. Amongst the most cited are José Celestino Mutis (South America, 105 species), Johan Gerhard König (Cape of Good Hope and India, 50 species), as well as two of Linnaeus's travelling students, Carl Peter Thunberg and Anders Sparrman (Cape of Good Hope, 70 and 50 species respectively).Figure 3.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of History, University of Exeter , Exeter , UK.

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Towards the very end of his academic career, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) – best known today for his “sexual” system of plant classification and his binomial nomenclature – used little paper slips of a standard size to process information on plants and animals that reached him on a daily basis... Both volumes had nearly 600 pages; the first Mantissa alone contained 25 new genera and – as Linnaeus explained himself – “more than 400 of the rarest species, which partly have never been referred to a particular genus, and partly are completely new. ” It is likely, then, that the title rather expressed the fact that Linnaeus had failed to integrate new information into further complete and updated editions of his taxonomic works, thus reducing the value of the book... As we will see in the next part of our paper, it was Mantissa plantarum altera for which Linnaeus first used his paper slips, and the quoted passage from the preface to this book is the only instance, as far as we can see, where Linnaeus makes explicit reference to this new working method... Linnaeus initially seems to have used the paper slips much like he had used loose sheets for his Species plantarum in the late 1740s, that is, as a preparatory manuscript... In the case of specimens sent by collectors, it is often possible to relate the respective slip to the letter sent by the correspondent and to a specimen that is still preserved in Linnaeus's herbarium... On the likely assumption that Linnaeus processed information contained in letters shortly after their receipt, it is possible to conclude that Linnaeus started the process of collecting information on paper slips just after the publication of the first Mantissa in 1767, and that he did not stop using paper slips after Mantissa plantarum altera was published in 1771... In this case, a pair of slips drawn up from different sources was used over a period of more than two years to systematically collate information and settle on taxonomic assignments (Figure 3)... It is highly likely, although impossible to demonstrate conclusively, that this went along with a re-shuffling of the paper slips... Linnaeus now had two herbarium specimens carrying the same name, and a letter to Bäck on 12 September 1773 mentions that he had “received so many of this genus [i.e. Ixia] that they need close examination. ” In the course of this examination, Linnaeus apparently reached the conclusion that the two specimens of Ixia crispa actually represented different species, since he changed the trivial name of Sparrman's specimen from Ixia crispa to Ixia undulata... They bear a striking resemblance to Linnaeus's later slips (Figure 7)... It is tempting to conclude that, while cataloguing the Queen's collection, the first seeds were planted for the later independent “invention” of paper slips by Solander and Linnaeus... In the stages of Linnaeus's working process, they occupied a sort of middle ground: while the first step was to draw up a list of specimens provisionally assigned to species, the paper slips allowed Linnaeus to note down their characteristics, to compare species with each other, and to allocate names to them.

No MeSH data available.