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LANG, Carl Nicolaus.

(1670 – 1741)

(Born: Lucern, Switzerland, 18 February 1670; Died: Lucern, Switzerland, 2 May 1741) Swiss physician, geologist & paleontologist.

Lang received his M.D. in Rome in 1692. He practiced medicine in Lucern from 1609, and was elected a member of French Academy of Sciences and the Leopoldin Society. He founded the Lucern Museum of Natural History.

Biographical references: Bachmann, H., "Karl Nikolaus Lang, Dr. Phil. et Med., 1670-1741", Geschichtsfreund, 51, (1896), 167-280. DBA: I 734, 462-463. DSB: 8, 4 [by P.A. Gerstner]. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer): 29, 381-2. Poggendorff: 1, col. 1368. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, ??. WBI. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 179.

1. Latin, 1722.
Caroli Nicolai Langii Methodus nova & facilis testacea marina pleraque quæ huc usque nobis nota sunt, in suas debitas & distinctas classes, genera, & species distribuendi, nominibusque suis propriis structuræ potissumum accommodatis nuncupandi. Lucernæ, Sumptibus Authoris, typis Henrici Rennvvardi Wyssing, 1722.

4°: xxiii, 102 p. Indexes in Latin, German and French.

Rare. An early palaeontological work, describing fossil shells and other mollusks, together with Lang's new method to describe and name the species.

Bibliographical references: BL [no copy listed]. Wellcome Catalog (Books).

Historia Lapidum Figuratorum Helvetiæ, 1708

2. Latin, 1708.
Caroli Nicolai Langii | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | Historia | Lapidum Figuratorum | Helvetiæ, | Ejusque Viciniæ, | In quâ non solùm enarrantur omnia eorum | Genera, Species Et Vires | Æneisque Tabulis Repræsentantur, | Sed insuper adducuntur eorum | Loca Nativa, | In Quibus Reperiri Solent, | Ut Cuilibet Facile Sit Eos Col- | ligere, modo adducta loca. | Adire Libeat. | [ornament] | Venetiis MDCCVIII. | [rule] | Sumptibus Authoris, Typis Jacobi Tomasini. | Superiorum Permissu. | Lucernæ, apud Hæredes Gottofredi Hautt. | & Joannem Jodocum Halter.

4°: [30], 165, [1] p., engraved title page page, 54 engraved plates (fossils and minerals), text illus.

Rare. One of the earliest studies of Swiss mineralogy and paleontology, this work describes the figured stones, minerals and fossils of the country. Lang was an aggressive collector who amassed a large collection of natural history objects found in his native land. These formed his "Museum Lucernense Langianum" which included preserved plants, animals and birds, as well as a large component of mineralogical objects.[1] In this work Lang provides original descriptions of many of them.

For this work, Lang choose his best specimens for illustration. Lang was a proponent of the formation of fossils within the rocks. He believed that the fossils had developed from moist seed-bearing vapors which had risen from the seas and entered into the earth's strata and strongly argued against the diluvialists that fossils were the result of the "Great Flood". Lang's fossil descriptions and theories were used by Beringer in his ill-fated 1726 work "Lithographia Wurceburgensis". The beautifully engraved title frontispiece page drawn by the artist Besutius and engraved by Blancus shows a collection of mineral and fossil cabinets. The plates illustrate minerals, fossil vertebrates and invertebrates, and fossil plants.

Hoover 505; Ward & Carozzi 1321. A very scarce work on the minerals and fossils of Switzerland. In 1735 a small supplement with 10 pages and 1 plate was published. Lang was one of the last authors who believed in the direct origin of the fossils in the rocks and particularly argued against the conception of the diluvialists that fossils were animals destroyed by the Flood. "Lang's fossil descriptions were used and his theories discussed by Beringer, and Lang is said to have been a colleague of Scheuchzer. Yet the closeness of the relationship with Scheuchzer is open to question since the latter was a diluvialist" (D.S.B. VIII, p. 4). The beautifully engraved frontispiece drawn by Ambrosius Besutius and engraved by Paulus Blancus shows a geological cabinet, containing minerals and fossils. "The physician and senator Karl Lang (1670-1741) established his 'Museum Lucernense Langianum', in Lucerne; it contained mostly minerals and fossils. In 1858 it was purchased by the Natural History Museum of Lucerne" (Wilson. The History of Mineral Collecting p. 119). The plates show minerals, fossil plants, fishes, a human skeleton, and shells. A good copy.

= Ward and Carozzi, 1321; Nissen ZBI, 2375. A very rare work on the fossils of Switzerland with the beautifully engraved frontisp. showing a mineral Cabinet, drawn by A. Besutius and engraved by Blanus. The plates depict minerals, fossils, plants, fishes and mainly shells and one plate gives a view of the famous Mons Pilatus by Melchior Füessli which was one of the first mountains to be described in a mineralogical way. See also DSB vol.8 p.4.

Bibliographical references: Darmstädter, Steinbücher, 1934 [p. 270]. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 331. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 171-2. Geikie, Founders of Geology, 1905: p. 98. Hoover Collection: no. 505. LKG: XIV 468. Studer, Geschichte Geographie Schweiz, 1863: 209. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 1321. Zittel, Geschichte der Geologie, 1899: 20ff..

3. Latin, 1735 [Supplement].
Appendix ad Historiam lapidum figuratorum Helveitæ, ejusque viciniæ, de miro quodam achate qui coloibus suis imaginem Christi in cruce morientis repræsentat, cujus occasione quoque de alijs mirabilibus, tam achatum, quàm allorum lapidum figuris breviter agitur ... cum exactâ descriptione lapidis cruciferi seu cruciati ... [n.p.]: Typis monsterij Einsidlensis, per M. Eberlin, 1735.

4°: A4 B2; 6l.; [2], [1]-10 p.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso "Benedicte..."; [1-2], "Præfatio."; [3]-10, Text.

Very rare. Appendix to the author's Historia lapidum figuratorum Helvetiæ (Venetiis, 1708).

Bibliographical references: Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 172. Leipziger gelehrte Zeitung: 1736, 331. LKG: XIV 468 & XVI 182.

4. Latin, 1709.
Caroli Nicolai Langii | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | Tractatus | De | Origine | Lapidum Figuratorum | in quo diffusè differitur, utrum nimirum sint | Corpora Marina A Diluvio Ad Montes Translata, | & tractu temporis petrificata | vel an | A Seminio Quodam E Materia Lapidescente | intra terram generentur, | Quibus accedit accurata | Diluvii, | Ejusque In Terra Effectuum | Descriptio cum Dissertatione | De Generatione Viventium, | Testaceorum præcipuè, plurimorumq; corporum, | à vi plasticâ auræ seminalis hinc inde delatæ | extra consuetam matricem | productorum. | [ornament] | Lucernæ, MDCCIX. | [rule] | Sumptibus Authoris, Typis Annæ Felicitatis Hautt. | Superiorum Permissu.

4°: [8], 80 p.

Rare. Paleontology. A tract on the origin of figured stones in all their diversity and incorporating plants and animals of the land and sea. Compares his own theories to the biblical deluge, and puts forth ideas on the generation of fossils in rock.

Bibliographical references: Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 332. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 172. Hoover Collection: no. 506. LKG: XVII 15. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 1322.