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Walther Charleton

(1619 - 1707)

(Born: Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England, 13 February 1619; Died: London, England, 6 May 1707) English physician & naturalist.

Charleton received early education at home. He entered Oxford University, 1635; awarded degree of doctor of physick, 1643; considered an extraordinary genius during his lifetime, he turned his talents to writing about a variety of subjects including Stonehenge, Epicurean ethics, and medical topics; his importance as a scientist rests on "his role as expositor of the atomic philosphy in a period during which its reception as a viable doctrine was in doubt" (DSB); original founding member of the Royal Society of London; member of Royal College of Physicians, 1676.

Biographical references: DNB: 4, 116-9. DSB: 3, 208-210 [by Robert Kargon]. Fleitmann, S., Walter Charleton (1620-1707), "Virtuoso": Leben und Werk. Frankfurt am Main, Lang, 1986. 478 p. [Published as: Aspekte der englischen Geistes- und Kulturgeschichte. vol. 7.]]. Golden, S.A., "Dryden's praise of Dr. Charleton", Hermathena: A Dublin University Review, 103, (1966), 59-65. Osler, M.J., "Descartes and Charleton on nature and God", Journal of the History of Ideas, 40, (1979), 445-56. Rolleston, H., "Walter Charleton, D.M., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.", Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 8, (1940), 403-16. Sharpe, L., "Walter Charleton's Early Life, 1620-1659, and Relationship to Natural Philosophy in Mid-Seventeenth Century England", Annals of Science, 30, (1973), 311-40.

Onomasticon Zoicon, 1668

1. Latin, 1668 [First edition].
Onomasticon Zoicon, | Plerorumque Animalium | Differentias & Nomina Propria pluribus lin- | guis exponens. | Cui accedunt | Mantissa Anatomica; | Et quĉdam | De Variis Fossilivm Generibus. | [rule] | Autore | Gualtero Charletono, M.D. Caroli II. Magnĉ Britanniĉ Re- | gis, Medico Ordinario, & Collegii Medicorum Londinen- | siuns Socio. | [double rule] | Londini, | Apud Jacobum Allestry Regalis Societatis Typogra- | phum. MDCLXVIII.

4°: π3 a4 b2 A1 B-Xx4 Yy1; 182l.; [20], 1-309, [1], [34] p., 9 leaves of plates (1 folded; showing birds). Indexes: p. [1]-[34] at end.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [14 pgs], "Prĉfatio."; [1 pg], "Typographus | Erudito Lectori."; [1 pg], Two quotations in Greek.; [1 pg], Sectional title page, "[rule] | Qualteri Charletoni | Onomastico Zoicon. | [rule]."; [1 pg], "5to Junii 1668 | ..."; 1-34, Text of animals.; [35], Blank.; 36-59, Text of insects.; [60], Blank.; 61-117, Text of birds.; [118], Blank.; 119-191, Text of fishes.; [192], Blank.; 193-213, Text of Zoophytorvm.; [214], Sectional title page, "De Variis | Fossilium | Generibus."; [215], Sectional title page, "De Variis | Fossilium | Generibus."; [216], Blank.; 217-309, Text of fossils.; [1 pg], Blank.; [34 pgs], "Index."

Very scarce. Onomasticon Zoicon, the title of this important and celebrated natural history classic means a dictionary of living things. It is a work of natural taxonomy, and Charleton gives the English, Latin and Greek names of all manner of natural things. It is the first English book to provide illustrations of the English birds it describes. In addition to listings of quadrupeds, insects, birds and fish, the text includes in the third and final section an early and important list of fossils.

In Charleton's time, fossil referred to anything dug from the earth, and consequently many of the descriptions are of minerals and precious stones. Among those fossils listed are fossilized fish and shells, agate, chalcedony, sardonyx, diamond, bezoar stone, carbuncle, garnet, sapphire, emerald, gold, silver, copper, tin, iron. Under a heading of mixed metals mention is made of galena, pyrite, chrysocholla, minum, and various lead spars.

Bibliographical references: BL [462.a.9.]. Garrison & Morton: 292. Jackson, Bird Etchings, 1985: p. 26. Mullens & Swann, Ornithology Bibliography, 1917: 125. Norman Catalog: no. 461. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 224. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 2, 329. Wing: C-3688. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: 287.

2. Latin, 1671 [Reissue].
Onomastikon zoikon continens plerorumque animalium quadrupedum, serpentium, insectorum, avium & piscium differentias, eorumque nomina propria diversis linguis exposita, cui accedunt mantissa anatomica, et nonnulla de variis fossilium generibus, cum figuris. London, Apud Jacobum Allestry ..., 1671.

4°: [18], 309, [36] p., [5] leaves of plates. At head of title: Gualteri Charletoni M.D. Caroli II. Magnĉ Britanniĉ regis, medici ordinarii, & Collegii Medicorum Londinensium socii. Index: p. [1]-[35] at end. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: BL [1489.b.26.].

3. Latin, 1677 [2nd edition].
Gualteri Charletoni | Exercitationes | De | Differentiis & Nominibus Animalium. | Quibus accedunt | Mantissa Anatomica, | Et quĉdam | De variis Fossilium generibus, | Deque differentiis & nominibus Colorum. | Edition secunda, duplo, fere auctior priori, novisque iconibus ornata. | [Large ornamental rectangular scene] | Oxoniĉ, | E Theatro Sheldoniano, An. Dom. 1677.

3 parts (bound in 1 volume). [Part 1] 2°: a-e2, A-Gg2; 70l.; [20], [1]-119, [1] p., large engraved title-vignette, 3 engraved plates. [Part 2] 2°: a*-dd*2; 53l.; [1]-106 p., with 3 engraved plates and 5 engraved figures in the text. [Part 3] 2°: Aa-Aaa2; 50l.; [2], [1]-78, [20] p. Page size: 220 x 355 mm.

Contents: [Part 1] [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [6 pgs], Dedication.; [11 pgs], "Prĉfatio."-dated M DC LXVII [=1677].; [1 pg], Two quotations in Greek.; 1-31, Text of animals.; 32-35, Text of snakes.; 36-63, Text of insects.; 64-119, Text of birds.; [1 pg], Blank.

[Part 2] 1-67, Text of fishes.; 68-69, Text of zoophyta.; [70], Blank.; 71-106, Text of Mantissa Anatomica.

[Part 3] [1 pg], Sectional title page, "De Variis | Fossilium | Generibvs."; [1 pg], Blank.; 1-78, Text of fossils.; [3 pgs], "Addenda."; [1 pg], Blank.; [15 pgs], "Index."; [1 pg], Blank.

Very scarce. Second edition, substantially enlarged, with much of the work new and in every part improved and additionally illustrated. The change to the larger folio size from the quarto of the 1668 edition provided more descriptive space for Charleton and he makes good use of it. This is a truly splendid volume. The text flows along the lines of the earlier edition, but with the addition of an appendix, `Colorum Differentiis et Nominibus.' This remarkable section which only appears in this edition, classifies various shades of colors by their English and Latin names. For example, there are 11 shades of white, 18 of yellow and 16 of red.

Bibliographical references: BL [37.g.13.]. Lowndes, Bibliographer's Manuel, 1857-64: 422. Madan, Oxford Books, 1895-1931: no. 3137. Nissen (ZBI): 872. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 223. Wing: C-3672. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: 287.

4. Latin, 1677 [Quarto reissue?].
Onomasticon zoicon, plerorumque animalium differentias & nomina propria pluribus linguis exponens. Cui accedunt mantissa anatomica; et quaedam de variis fossilium generibus. Editio secunda, duplo fere auctior priori, novisque iconibus ornata. Oxoniĉ Theatro Sheldoniano, 1677

4°: [18], [2], 214, [2], 215-310, [36] p., 8 excellent engraved plates (6 folding), 5 of which depict birds. Four engraved illustrations in the text, including a full-page illustration of a bird. Addenda: p. [1]-[2] at end. Delenda: p. [2] at end. Errata: p. [2]-[3] at end. Index: p. [5]-[19] at end.

Very scarce. Apparently a quarto sized issue of the second edition, with the title reverting to something reminicient of the Onomasticon Zoicon first edition of 1668. There seem to be several issues of Charleton's work though none of the standard sources describe it as such.

Bibliographical references: BL [435.h.10.]. Hoover Collection: no. 218. LKG: III 55. Nissen (ZBI): 872 [wrong collation?]. Wing: 3688.

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