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Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
BLUMENBACH, Johann Friedrich.

BLUMENBACH, Johann Friedrich.
(1752 - 1840)

(Born: Gotha, Germany, 11 May 1752; Died: Göttingen, Germany, 22 January 1840) German physician, biologist & naturalist.

Blumenbach studied medicine at Jena and Göttingen, from which he received his M.D. in 1775. He was appointed professor ordinary of medicine and anatomy at the University of Göttingen in 1778, where he had a 50 year career. Considered one of the founders of modern anthropology, Blumenbach was the first to divide the human species into five races, i.e., Caucasian, Mongolian, Malay, American and African or Ethiopian. Blumenbach was a member of about seventy learned societies. He was made a knight of the Guelphic order in 1821.

Biographical references: ADB: 2, 748. Barr, Index to Biographical Fragments, 1973: 26. Catalogue of Portraits of Naturalists: 192 [9 portraits listed]. Cleevely, World Palæontological Collections, 1983: 60. DBA: I 110, 256-282; 1425, 202-212; II 138, 33; 138, 35-46. Drugulin, Sechstausend Portraits, 1863: nos. 469-87 & 6057. DSB: 2, 203-5 [by W. Baron]. Hamberger & Meusel, Gelehrte Teutschland, 1796-1834. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 2, ??. ISIS, 1913-65: 1, 159. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 44. Mayerhöfer, Lexikon der Naturwissenschaften, 1958-75: 495-6. NDB: 2, 329-30 [by A. Kleinschmidt]. Poggendorff: 1, col. 214. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 2, 572-3, Suppl. 1 (1985), 1, 296 & Suppl. 2 (1996), 1, 446-7. Schrader, Biographisch Lexicon der Tierärtze, 1863. Spencer, F., "Johann Friedrich Blumenbach", in: History of Physical Anthropology and Encyclopedia, 1, (1997), 183-9. Thomas, Dictionary of Biography, 1884: 373. Wagenitz, Göttinger Biologen, 1988: 29-30. WBI.

1. German, 1779 [First edition].
D. Joh. Friedr. Blumenbachs d[e]r Med. Prof. ord. zu Göttingen Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, J. C. Dieterich, 1779-80.

2 vols. bound in one. 8°: [14], [1]-559, [27] p., 2 plates (folding).

Very scarce. A once very popular, much printed, ambitious and comprehensive work on natural history, covering all aspects including the kingdom of minerals. Von den Säugethieren, Vögeln, Amphibien, Fischen, Insekten, Würmern, Pflanzen, Mineralien, Metallen, Versteinerungen etc. - Die Taf. mit Abb. der verschiedenen Würmer im menschlichen Körper in Orig.-Größe, der Blattrinde der Pirnblätter und merkwürdigen Kristallisationen der Mineralien. In his other work, Handbuch der Naturgeschichte (1779), he presented a compelling argument that zoological classifications should and could be based on structures associated with an animal's specific functions. With his approach, he made an important contribution to the development of comparative primate anatomy. He noted that humans possessed a unique suite of anatomical characteristics that proved they were exclusively designed stand and walk upright (Spencer 185). Blumenbach began to separate human beings from apes, suggesting that Homo be assigned to a different and separate zoological order. This technique of separation between humans and apes were widely adopted and continued to the mid-19th century. Blumenbach view of the nature was a philosophical one; he searched for the causes of things, not satisfying himself with the mere counting and description of phenomena. He approached anthropology with the mind of the natural scientist. He recognised that, in the same way as domestic animals come in varieties, all known groups of mankind originated from one common, basic race, which he divided into five. His activity as a teacher comprised three fields of natural history: mineralogy, botany, and zoology, the latter being his main discipline. Blumenbach's Handbuch der Naturgeschichte (1779) is the first authored on a anatomical-physiological basis. It went through many editions and was translated into many languages. Although Blumenbach tended to follow the Linnean system, this work ushered in a new era in natural history. It contains an abundance of new or hitherto insufficiently evaluated morphological and ecological findings, from which Blumenbach drew conclusions that led to a more modern concept of the plant and animal kingdoms. He concluded from the spread of certain parasites found only in the domestic pig that such parasites did not exists as long as pigs were not domesticated and that they could therefore not possibly have existed since the creation of the world. Such ideas, revolutionary in their day, were carefully presented in various places in the Handbuch, and were demonstrated by concrete examples. In connection with the morphological analysis and geological dating of fossil plants and animals, Blumenbach developed ideas that were still unknown to most of the scientists of his day and were touched upon by only a few others, such as Soulavie. He came to the conclusion that there had been groups of plants and animals, now extinct, which could not be classified in the system of recent forms of life, and he even attempted to draw up a geological-paleontological time scale.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XII 174.

2. German, 1782 [2nd edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte. Zweyte durchgehends verbesserte Ausgabe. Göttingen, J.Chr. Dieterich, 1782.

8°: 3 folding engraved tables

Very scarce. Cf. BMC NH, p. 179; Wood, p. 245 (both first edition of 1799); DSB II, pp. 203-205. Second revised and expanded edition of highly influential work on natural history that "ushered in a new era in the advancement of science" (DSB). In this handbook Blumenbach included a wealth of morphological and ecological findings. He stated for instance that parasites found in domestic pigs did not exist as long as pigs were not domesticated, and therefore they could not have existed since the creation of the world. Based on his morphological analysis and geological dating of fossil plants and animals, he said that certain forms of plant and animal life had not only become extinct but also could not be classified in the system of recent forms of life. Blumenbach therefore was one of the earliest thinkers to recognize the "historicalness" of nature(DSB). The Handbuch der Naturgeschichte was first published in 1799. It went through numerous editions and was translated into many languages. The three parts of the work, zoology, botany and mineralogy, are each accompanied by a folding engraved plate.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125.

3. German, 1788 [3rd edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, J. C. Dieterich, 1788.

8°: [i]-xvi, [1]-715 p., 3 plates (folding). Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125.

4. German, 1791 [4th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, J. C. Dieterich, 1791.

8°: [i]-xii, [1]-704, [34] p., 3 plates (folding). Very scarce.

5. German, 1797 [5th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte. 5. Aufl. Göttingen, Dieterich 1797.

8°: XVIII, 714, [32] p., 2 engraved plates. Scarce.

6. German, 1803 [7th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, Dieterich Verlag, 1803.

8°: [i]-xvi, [1]-734 p., 2 plates (engraved, folding). Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125.

7. German, 1807 [8th edition].
Handbuch | der | Naturgeschichte | von | Joh. Fried. Blumenbach. | Achte Auflage. | Göttingen, 1807. | Bei Heinrich Dieterich.

8°: [i]-xvi, [1]-743, [41] p., 2 plates (engraved, folding).

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso quotation.; iii-xii, "Vorrede."; xiii, "Zusätze."; xiv, "Verbesserungen."; xv-xvi, "Anweisung der Kupftafeln."; [1]-743, Text.; [41 pgs], Index.

Scarce. The text in XVI chapters consists of 3 introductory chapters on general natural history and sections on the various kingdoms.

Bibliographical references: BMC: 1, 179. Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: no. 300. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: 245.

8. German, 1814 [9th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, Dieterich, 1814.

8°: xiv, 754 p., 2 plates (folding). Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125.

9. German, 1821 [10th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Göttingen, Dieterich, 1821.

8°: xiv, 813 p., 2 plates (folding). Includes bibliographical references and index. Very scarce.

10. German, 1825 [11th edition].
Handbuch | der | Naturgeschichte | von | Joh. Fried. Blumenbach. | [ornament] | Eilfte rechtmässige Ausgabe. | Göttingen, 1825. | In der Dieterich'schen Buchhandlung.

8°: [2], [i]-xi, [1], [1]-668 p., 2 plates (engraved, folding).

Very scarce. A revised edition, with a new forword by Blumenbach and adding primarily to the list of references for each section, rather than the text proper.

Bibliographical references: Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: no. 301.

11. German, 1832 [12th edition].
Handbuch der Naturgeschichte ... Wien, Lechner, 1832.

8°: [i]-viii, [1]-531 p., 2 plates. Very scarce.

Danish edition

12. Danish, 1793 [First edition].
Haandbog i Naturhistorien. Overs. efter den fierde tydske Udgave af O.J. Mynster. Kbhvn. 1793.

8°: [6], 598, [34] p., 3 folding tables. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: Bibliotheca Danica: 2, 163. LKG: XII 175a*.

Russian edition

13. Russian, 1797 [First edition].
Rukovodstvo k estestvennoi istorii D. Iog. Fridr. Blumenbakha, Gettingskago Universiteta Professora i Velikobritanskago Nadvornago Sovietnika, perevedennoe s Niemetskago na Rossiiskii iazyk Estestvennoi Istorii uchiteliami Petrom Naumovym i Andreem Teriaevym. Sanktpeterburg, Pechatano v Privillegirovannoi Tipografii u Vil'kovskago, 1796, c1797.

3 vols. Rare.

Contents: Ch. 1. O estestvennykh tielakh voobshche i chastno o zveriakh i ptitsakh. Ch. 2. O zemnovodnykh, rybakh, nasekomykh, cherviakh i o proziabaemykh tielakh voobshche. Ch. 3. Ob izkopaemykh tielakh i okamenelostiakh.

Bibliographical references: Svodnyi Katalog Russkoi Knigi: no. 610.

French edition

14. French, 1803 [First edition].
Manuel de l'Histoire Naturelle Traduit de l'Allemand de Blumenbach sur la 6. Edition ... par Soulange Artaud ... Paris et Metz, Chez Collignon, Imprimeur-Libraire, 1803.

2 vols. Translated from the 6th German edition. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XII 175a. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 125.

English edition

15. English, 1825 [First edition].
A | Manual | of the | Elements | of | Natural History. | By | I.F. Blumenbach, | [...4 lines of titles and memberships...] | Translated from the tenth German edition, | By R.T. Gore, | Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, in London, &c. | [quotation, 5 lines] | London: | printed for W. Simpkin & R. Marshall, | Stationers'-Hall Court. | 1825.

8°: [12], [1]-415, [1], [i]-xiv p., 2 plates (engraved).

Contents: [2 pgs], Half title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], Dedication by translator.; [2 pgs], Advertisement.; [2 pgs], Extract from author's preface.; [2 pgs], Contents.; [1]-415, Text.; [i]-xiv, Index.

Scarce. Translation from the tenth German edition by Richard Thomas Gore [1799-1881], with the text in 16 sections.

Bibliographical references: Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: no. 302.

16. German, 1806-11.
Beitrage zur Naturgeschichte von Joh. Fr. Blumenbach. Göttingen, J. C. Dieterich, 1806-11.

2 vols. 8°: Theil 1. Ausgabe 2, 1806. Theil 2. Ausgabe 1, 1811.

Very scarce. Blumenbach's book Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte contains several essays on the variability of nature, a concept that was not understood very well. It also showed that the earth, with all its flora and fauna, had a very long history. Blumenbach was one of the earliest thinkers to recognise the «historicalness» of nature, and therefore occupies an important place in the history of evolution theory. OkU has lots, Lots, LOTS OF EDITIONS .... 2 parts. Göttingen, 1790. 1811. English translation, London, 1865.

German, 1790: Beytrage zur Naturgeschichte von Joh. Fr. Blumenbach... Erster Theil. Gottingen, Bey Johann Christian Dieterich, 1790. 8°: a4 A-G8 H-I4; 66 leaves.; [i]-viii, [1]-126, [2] p., illus. Includes bibliographical references.

Bibliographical references: LKG: VI 101.

17. German, 1796-1810.
Abbildungen | naturhistorischer Gegenstände | herausgegeben | von | Joh. Fried. Blumenbach. | Ites Heft | Nro 1-10. | Göttingen | Bey Johann Christian Dietrich | 1796.

[Remaining titles numbered as follows:]

... | 2tes Heft. | Nro 11-20. | ... | 1797. \hfil\break ... | 3tes Heft. | Nro 21-30. | ... | 1798. \hfil\break ... | 4tes Heft. | Nro 31-40. | ... | 1799. \hfil\break ... | 5tes Heft. | Nro 41-50. | ... | 1800. \hfil\break ... | 6tes Heft. | Nro 51-60. | ... | 1802. \hfil\break ... | 7tes Heft. | Nro 61-70. | ... | 1804. \hfil\break ... | 8tes Heft. | Nro 71-80. | ... | 1805. \hfil\break ... | 9tes Heft. | Nro 81-90. | ... | 1809. \hfil\break ... | 10tes Heft. | Nro 91-100. | ... | 1810.

10 parts. 8°: 127 leaves, 100 engraved plates (9 hand-colored). Page size: 206 x 122 mm.

Contents: Heft 1, leaves: [1], Title page, verso contents.; [1], Preface, dated Göttingen, 7 April 1796.; [2], Description of plates 1-5.; Plates 1-10, each with one leave of descriptive text.; [1], Blank.

Hefts 2-9, each identically arranged, leaves: [1], Title page, verso contents.; text and plates.; [1], Blank.

Heft 10, leaves: [1], Title page, verso conents.; [1], Half title page, "Abbildungen | naturhistorischer Gegenstände," verso blank.; [1], Title page to the set, "Abbildungen | naturhistorischer Gegenstände | herausgegeben | von | Joh. Fried. Blumenbach. | Nro 1-100. | Göttingen | bey Heinrich Dieterich. | 1810," verso blank.; [3], Classified index to all plates.; [1], Contents list for Heft 1.; Text and plates, 91-100.; [1], Blank.

Rare. The ten Hefts described were reissued again in 1810 under a general title. This is an interesting little work pictures all aspects of nature in a series of 100 plates. Although a once popular work, its is today only of interest for its intrinsic and historic value, having made no significant scientific contribution. It contains descriptive text to each of the 100 plates, together with contents lists, that show depictions from the plant, animal and mineral realms of nature. The set title and other preliminary matter bound in Heft 10 were intended for the reader that wanted to have the separate parts bound into a single volume.

Bibliographical references: Anker, Bird Books and Bird Art, 1938: 46. LKG: VI 102a. Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: no. 296. Nissen (ZBI): ZBI 421. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 124. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: 254.

18. German, 1810 [Collected edition].
Abbildungen | naturhistorischer Gegenstände | herausgegeben | von | Joh. Fried. Blumenbach. | Nro 1-100. | Göttingen | bey Heinrich Dieterich. | 1810.

8°: 109 leaves, plates 1-100 (10 hand-colored).

Contents: leaves, [1], Half title page, verso blank.; [1], Title page, verso blank.; [3], Classified index to the plates.; [1], Table of contents ("des Isten Hefts").; [1], Preface, dated Göttingen, 24 January 1810.; [2], Disscussion of the anthropological plates 1-5; [100], Text, being one descriptive leave for each plate, 1-100.

Rare. The set title and preliminary is identical to that published in Heft 10 of the series; however, Heft 1 has been entirely reset with a revised preface. Due to evidence of wear in the typeset, Mengel believes this issue to have been printed from standing type rather than being bound up from old sheets. Hefts with later issue years are known to exist, indicating that distinctive editions of this work were also published in 1827 and 1830 and perhaps other years.

Bibliographical references: Mengel, Catalogue of the Ellis Collection, 1972-83: nos. 297-299. Zimmer, Ayer Ornithological Library, 1926: 62.

19. Latin, 1803.
Io. Frider. Blumenbachii Specimen archaeologiae telluris terrarumque inprimis Hannoveranarum. Goettingae, Apud Henricum Dieterich, 1803.

8°: [1-3], 4-28 p., 3 plates. Plates are unsigned and the impressions measure 13.3 x 17.3 cm. Includes bibliographical references. This book appears to be concerned with paleontology. Rare.

2nd edition, 1816: Io. Frid. Blumenbachii Specimen archaeologiae telluris terrarumque inprimis Hannoveranarum alterum. Gottingae, Apud Henricum Dieterich, 1816. [1]-[3], 4-24 p., illus., one plate signed "Priephs. sc.".

Bibliographical references: LKG: XVII 61.

20. Latin, 1808.
Specimen historiae naturalis antiquae artis operibus illustratae eaque vicissim illustrantis. Goettingae, Apud Henricum Dieterich, 1808.

8°: 32 p., illus. Rare.

Bibliographical references: LKG: VI 102b*.

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