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Johann C.P. Erxleben
ERXLEBEN, Johann Christian Polykarp.

ERXLEBEN, Johann Christian Polykarp.
(1744 - 1777)

(Born: Quedlinburg, Germany, 22 June 1744; Died: Göttingen, Germany, 19 August 1777) German naturalist.

Erxleben was born the son of a theologian, and his mother would be the first woman in Germany to be awarded the degree doctor of medicine. Erxleben began studying medicine at Göttingen, but turned his attention to natural history subjects. He became a professor of physics at the University of Göttingen in 1771. He built a good reputation throughout Europe, and his classes at the university widely attended.

Biographical references: ADB: 6, 335. DBA: I 292, 233-250. Hirsching, Historisch-literarisches Handbuch, 1794-1815. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, Supplement. Meusel, Verstorbenen Teutschen Schrifsteller, 1802-16. Poggendorff: 1, col. 679. Schrader, Biographisch Lexicon der Tierärtze, 1863. Wagenitz, Göttinger Biologen, 1988: 54. WBI.

1. German, 1768.
Johann Christian Polykarp Erxlebens, | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | Betrachtungen | der | Ursachen der Unvollständigkeit | der Mineralsysteme. | [rule] | Nebst einer Anzeige seiner Vorlesungen. | [ornate rule] | Göttingen, | gedruckt bey Friedrich Andreas Kosenbusch, Factor. | 1768.

8°: π2 *2-*32 χ2; 4l.; [1]-8 p.

Contents: [2 pg], Title, verso blank.; [3]-8, Text.

Very rare. This work considers reasons why no correct mineral system had yet been devised. The author attributes this dilema to two problems. The first was that no one had yet accurately investigated minerals from a chemical standpoint, and the second was that a very few, true species of minerals had been endlessly mixed in the earth, resulting in a seemingly endless variety of species to the mineralogists.

Bibliographical references: Berlinische Sammlungen: 3, 643-44. BL [B.371.(1.)]. Cobres, Delicić Cobresianć, 1782: 1, 223. Fischer, Mineralogie in Sachsen, 1939: 143 & 278. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 21. Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen: (1768), 513. LKG: XII 191. NUC [no copy listed].

2. German, 1768 [First edition].
Anfangsgründe der Naturgeschichte. Zum Gebrauche Akademischer Vorlesungen. Von Johann Christian Polykarp Erxleben ... Göttingen und Gotha, Bey Johann Christian Dieterich, 1768.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: *8 A-R8; 144l.; [16], 271, [1] p. [Vol 2] 8°: )(4 A-R8 S4; 145l.; [8], 281 (i.e., 279), [1] p. Pages 216-217 omitted in numbering; pages 93-112 numbered 39-58.

Very rare. This popular and influential introduction to natural history went through over half a dozen issues before the close of the 18th century. A bibliographer at heart, Erxleben provides many references for further reading, while describing the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms. After his death, Johann Friedrich Gmelin [see note below] took on the role of editor in 1782, and in this capacity continued to issue the text with references to the latest discoveries.

1773: ... Zwote, vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage mit Kupfern. Göttingen; Gotha, bey Johann Christian Dieterich, 1773. 8°: [37], 592, [12] p., 6 folding plates.

1782: ... Aus neue herausgegeben von Johann Friedrich Gmelin. Göttingen, J.C. Dieterich, 1782. 8°: liv, 756 p., 6 folding plates.

1784: Göttingen, J.C. Dieterich, 1784.

1786: Frankfurt, 1786. 8°: xlvi, 756 p., 6 folding plates.

1787: Vienna, Gedruckt bey Johann Thomas Edlen von Trattnern, 1787. 8°: lxviii, 756 p., 6 folding plates.

1797: Wien, Gedruckt bey Johann Thomas Edlen von Trattnern, 1797. 8°: xlviii, 671 p., 6 folding plates.

Johann Friedrich Gmelin. (Born: Tübingen, Germany, 8 August 1748; Died: Göttingen, Germany, 1 November 1804) German mineralogist & naturalist. Gmelin was father of the physician and chemist, Leopold Gmelin [1788-1853]. He was professor of medicine at Tübingen and professor of philosophy and medicine at Göttingen. In the spirit of his time, Gmelin worked in the fields of natural history, mineralogy, chemistry, entomology and botany.

Bibliographical references: Berlinische Sammlungen: 6 (1768), p. 198 & 9 (1769), p. 542. BL [955.b.5.]. Cobres, Delicić Cobresianć, 1782: 1, 223 [Second edition only]. Fischer, Mineralogie in Sachsen, 1939: pp. 143 & 278. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 177. Jonathan Hill, Bookseller: cat. 11 (1982), no. 51. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 3, 591. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 367 [1773 & 1784 editions]. Schröter's Journal für die Liebhaber: 4 (1770), p. 551. (Gmelin) ADB: 9, 270. Catalogue of Portraits of Naturalists: 485 [1 portrait listed]. DBA: I 398, 336-366; II 455, 232-235. Drugulin, Sechstausend Portraits, 1863: nos. 1951-2. Hamberger & Meusel, Gelehrte Teutschland, 1796-1834. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 2, 580. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 165. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 914-5. Schaedler, Biographisch Handwörterbuch, 1891: 42-3. Wagenitz, Göttinger Biologen, 1988: 65. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 665.

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