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

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

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

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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Catalogue of the Queen's insect collection, two paper slips for the genus Phalaena. On the left is a card drawn up by Daniel Solander, on the right one drawn up by Carl Linnaeus. Carl Linnaeus, “Museum Reginae”, von Linné, Carl Ms. 1, Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm. Courtesy of The Center for History of Science.
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Figure 0006: Catalogue of the Queen's insect collection, two paper slips for the genus Phalaena. On the left is a card drawn up by Daniel Solander, on the right one drawn up by Carl Linnaeus. Carl Linnaeus, “Museum Reginae”, von Linné, Carl Ms. 1, Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm. Courtesy of The Center for History of Science.

Mentions: One of the most distinctive features of this manuscript, if compared with other manuscripts left by Linnaeus, is that the slips cataloguing the Queen's collection bear both Linnaeus's and Solander's handwritings.85 Only nine slips are actually in Solander's very regular hand, most of which concern the genus Phalaena, now an obsolete genus in which Linnaeus included moths in general. All the other cards are in Linnaeus's distinctive scrawl (Figure 6). The division of labour between the two was certainly an important motivation to work with loose sheets that could later be assembled to form a complete manuscript. That there was a division of labour between the professor and his student is revealed by a closer look at the structure and content of the slips. Solander was meticulously following the model provided by Linnaeus's earlier taxonomic publications, and also the prescriptions about how to lay out a proper species description put forward in Linnaeus's Philosophia botanica.86 By contrast, Linnaeus's slips are more cluttered and harder to decipher. They look more like private research notes than a manuscript carefully prepared for the typesetter. And indeed, in the preface to the catalogue of the Queen's collection that was published a good 10 years later, Linnaeus recalled how he had originally collected some of his “modest observations [observatiunculas] on paper sheets [schedulas], primarily devoted to my own use, so that I would retain some kind of idea of [the specimens in the collection].”87Figure 6.


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

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

Catalogue of the Queen's insect collection, two paper slips for the genus Phalaena. On the left is a card drawn up by Daniel Solander, on the right one drawn up by Carl Linnaeus. Carl Linnaeus, “Museum Reginae”, von Linné, Carl Ms. 1, Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm. Courtesy of The Center for History of Science.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4837604&req=5

Figure 0006: Catalogue of the Queen's insect collection, two paper slips for the genus Phalaena. On the left is a card drawn up by Daniel Solander, on the right one drawn up by Carl Linnaeus. Carl Linnaeus, “Museum Reginae”, von Linné, Carl Ms. 1, Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm. Courtesy of The Center for History of Science.
Mentions: One of the most distinctive features of this manuscript, if compared with other manuscripts left by Linnaeus, is that the slips cataloguing the Queen's collection bear both Linnaeus's and Solander's handwritings.85 Only nine slips are actually in Solander's very regular hand, most of which concern the genus Phalaena, now an obsolete genus in which Linnaeus included moths in general. All the other cards are in Linnaeus's distinctive scrawl (Figure 6). The division of labour between the two was certainly an important motivation to work with loose sheets that could later be assembled to form a complete manuscript. That there was a division of labour between the professor and his student is revealed by a closer look at the structure and content of the slips. Solander was meticulously following the model provided by Linnaeus's earlier taxonomic publications, and also the prescriptions about how to lay out a proper species description put forward in Linnaeus's Philosophia botanica.86 By contrast, Linnaeus's slips are more cluttered and harder to decipher. They look more like private research notes than a manuscript carefully prepared for the typesetter. And indeed, in the preface to the catalogue of the Queen's collection that was published a good 10 years later, Linnaeus recalled how he had originally collected some of his “modest observations [observatiunculas] on paper sheets [schedulas], primarily devoted to my own use, so that I would retain some kind of idea of [the specimens in the collection].”87Figure 6.

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.