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MARTINI, Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm.

(1729 – 1778)

(Born: Ohrdruf, Herzogth. Gotha, Germany, 31 August 1729; Died: Berlin, Germany, 27 June 1778) German physician & naturalist.

Martini had a medical practice in Arten from 1758 to 1762, before relocating to Berlin. He founded the important and influential Gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde (Society of nature researcher Friends).

Biographical references: ADB. Baldinger, Biographien Ärzte, 1768-71. Beschäftigungen der Gesellschaft naturforsche Freunde: 4, ??. Biographie Universelle. DBA: I 808, 267-318; II 859, 8-9. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8. Hirsching, Historisch-literarisches Handbuch, 1794-1815. Meusel, Verstorbenen Teutschen Schrifsteller, 1802-16. Poggendorff: 2, col. 64. WBI.

The compilers of dictionaries had two large banks from which to rob: Linnaeus' Systema Naturæ and Buffon's Histoire Naturelle. They would abstract and arrange the contents of these works alphabetically. As a result the reader got Linnaeus' exactness and Buffon's fine writing in both science and literature. Creation of such dictionaries reached it zenith with the extravagant works of Houttyun's Natuurkyke Historie of Uitvoerige Beschryving der Dieren, Planten en Mineralen, published in thirty-seven volumes (1761-85), and Valmont de Bomare's Dictionaire Raisoné Universel d'Histoire Naturelle, that appeared in at least five editions, and Danish, Dutch, Italian and Russian translations. There was also Martini's Allgemeine Geschichte der Natur in alfabetischer Ordnung (1774), which ambitiously built on Bomare's Dictionaire and invited its readers to participate in making a new edition by filling out pages left blank for the purpose. The new edition would not be complete, extending into the letter "C" in 11 volumes. In natural history, Martini said, "complete is a harmonious sound without meaning."

1. German, 1773-93.
Allgemeine Geschichte der Natur in alphabetischer Ordung; fortgesetzt von einer Gesellschaft Gelehrten, und herausgegeben von Johann Georg Krünitz. Berlin, J. Pauli, 1773-93.

11 vols. [Vol 1: 1774] 8°: ?? p., 26 engraved plates. [Vol 2: 17  ] 8°: [16], 690 p., 51 engraved plates. (Alaun-Aouai). [Vol 3: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 47 engraved plates. [Vol 4: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 44 engraved plates. [Vol 5: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 33 engraved plates. [Vol 6: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 40 engraved plates. [Vol 7: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 26 engraved plates. [Vol 8: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 66 engraved plates. [Vol 9: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 66 engraved plates. [Vol 10: 17  ] 8°: ?? p., 71 engraved plates. [Vol 11: 1793] 8°: ?? p., 74 engraved plates.

Rare. Allgemeine Geschichte der Natur or "The General History of Nature" by Friedrich Heinrich Martini and J. Krunitz is one of a number of large, comprehensive dictionaries of nature that were published during the 18th century. Written in the style of the French dictionaries like Valmont de Bomare's, this work of natural history and botany covers animals, entomology, plants, geology, minerals, fossils, and more, with many of the illustrative plates designed by the distinguished artists of the age like Seligmann, Maria Sibylla Merian, Edwards, Catesby, Knorr, Roesel, Martini, etc. These plates were mostly engraved by J. Schmidt in Berlin. Unlike many of the contemporary French works, however, this book is alphabetical in its treatment of the subject. Apparently it was not a profitable venture either, and was never completed, with the 11 volumes that appeared extending only from the letter A through entries beginning with `Cog'.

Bibliographical references: BL [45.c.16.]. LKG: VIII 5a. Nissen (ZBI): no. 2721. Zischka, Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1961: 208.

2. German, 1773 [Sale catalog].
Verzeichniß des Naturalienkabinets, Bibliothek &c. des Hofrath Georg Ernst Stahl [by F.W.H. Martini]. Berlin, 1773.

8°: 182 p. Rare.

Bibliographical references: BL [no copy listed]. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 266.

Verzeichniss, 1774

3. German, 1774 [Sale catalog].
D. Friedrich Wilh. Heinrich Martini | Verzeichniß | einer | auserlesenen Sammlung | von | Naturalien | und | Kunstsachen, | auch | physikalischen Instrumenten, | nebst einer | systematischen Tabelle und Erklarung | von dessen | Konchylienkabinette. | [ornate rule] | Berlin, | bey Joachim Pauli, 1774.

8°: [8], 152 p.

Very rare. Describes the important natural history cabinet of Martini. Contained therein are descriptions of precious stones, fossils, minerals, anatomical specimens, shells, a few scientific insturments, and peculiar works of art. Martini was known as a compentent conchologist, and the description of the shells are well annotated with references to contemporary reference works. The desire to make this catalog a lasting work of reference is shown by the inclusion of a large folding table, entitled, "D. Martini systematische Tabelle seines vollständigen Konchylienkabinettes."

Related work: Neues sytematisches Conchylien-Cabinet ... Nurnberg, bey Gabriel Nikolaus Raspe, 1769-1829. 12 vols. [USC Hancock Special Collections QL406.M37 1769; BL, 36.f.1.].

Bibliographical references: Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek: 25, no. 2, 525. Beckmann P.Ö.B.: 4, 570. BL [956.h.32.]. Freiesleben, Sächsische Mineralien-Verzeichnisse, 1828: no. 28. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 266. NUC [no copy listed]. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 217.