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FALCK, Johan Peter.

(1733? – 1774)

(Born: 1733?; Died: March 1774) Swedish naturalist.

Beyträge, 1785

1. German, 1785-6.
Herrn Johann Peter Falk | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | Beyträge | zur | Topographischen Kenntniß | des | Rußischen Reichs. | [rule] | Erster Band, | [rule] | welcher | die Geschichte seiner Reise von den Jahren 1768 bis 1773 und Beyträge zu | physikalischen und politischen Erdbeschreibung &c. enthält. | [rule] | St. Petersburg, | gedruckt bey der Kayserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1785.

3 vols. [Vol 1: 1785] 4°: viii, xii, 402 p. [Vol 2: 1785] 4°: vi, 282 p. [Vol 3: 1786] 4°: iv, 283–584, xxxvi p., 2 folding engraved maps, coloured in outline, 44 engraved plates (many folding).

Very scarce. This work was compiled and edited by Johann Georg Georgi from Falck's notes after his suicide in 1774. Originally the work was planned to be published in two volumes but, owing to an increase in the amount of material the second volume was divided into two. Falck was a disciple of Linnaeus and plans were mad for him to accompany Forsskål to Arabia and in Forsskål's company he arrived in Copenhagen in 1760, but his services were not required. In 1763 plans were made for him to gain employment in St. Petersburg as head of the natural history collection of the Russian State Councilor Kruse. In 1768 an expedition to Eastern Russia and Siberia was arranged, in which Falck was included. The expedition traveled into Siberia via Astrakhan and Orenburg via Kolyvan and Tomsk almost reaching the Mongolian border in 1772, but Falck was then ordered to return to St. Petersburg. All along he had been collecting material. For a short time he accompanied Petr Simon Pallas and Georgi in their travels. Having made it to Kazan Falck committed suicide in March, 1774. A decade later Georgi edited Falck's diaries and note into the Beyträge.

The work begins with Falck's summary account of the journey followed by a geographical description of scenery and life in the areas covered in Russia and Siberia, a map, hydrological and mineralogical observations, lists of plants arranged according to the sexual system, an extensive Russian-Siberian fauna and an account of various peoples encountered. Of particular value is Falck's elaborate description of the South-Russian steppe. Falck's Beyträge was a distinguished scientific achievement and a fitting monument to its unfortunate author. The contents of the volumes are as follows: 1. History of the trip from 1768 to 1773 and an examination of the physical and political geography of the regions transversed. 2. Describes the various types of water, rocks, minerals, fossils, and plants encountered. It includes several illustrations. 3. Deals with the fauna and various Asian ethnic groups encountered. It also contains an index to the entire work and illustrations of animals, people and tools.

Bibliographical references: Anker, Bird Books and Bird Art, 1938: 140. BL [149.d.15.]. LKG: XIV 758. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 2808.