SCHOPF, Johann David.
(1752 – 1800)
Son of a wealthy merchant, Schöpf was educated from 1767 to 1770 at the Gymnasium at Hof. Afterwards he attended the University of Erlangen where he studied medicine and the natural sciences and from which he graduated in 1773. After a year of travel throughout Germany, he returned to Erlangen, receiving his M.D. in 1776. He immediately established a medical practice in Ansbach. This lead to his appointment as the chief surgeon for the Ansbach regiment in service of the British army, stationed at New York, Long Island, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia between 1777 and 1783. After his discharge, from 1783 to 1784 Schöpf travelled extensively throughout the middle and southern United States, finally returning to Germany by-way of the Bahamas. Once again in Germany, he opened a medical practice in Bayreuth and wrote a number of important works dealing with the natural history of America. For the remainder of his life, Schöpf remainded mostly in Germany, with only two short excursions to Italy and Holland. He died in Germany of a disease of the throat.
Biographical references: ADB: 32, 350-2. • DAB: 16, 457-8 [by G.H. Genzmer]. • DBA: I 1132, 186-222; II 1178, 239-240. • Elliott, Biographical Index, 1990: 206. • Elliott, Biographical Dictionary, 1979: 229. • Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 5, 125-6 [by E. Gurlt]. • Ireland, Index to Scientists, 1962: 543. • Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 387. • Lloyd, J.J., "Johann David Schoepf, Hessian traveller", Earth Science History, 11, (1992), no. 2, 88-9. • Morrison, A.J., "Dr. Johann David Schöpf", German American Annals, 8, (1910), 255-64. • Poggendorff: 2, col. 834. • Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, 2068 & Suppl. 2 (1996), 2, 1060. • Spieker, E.M., "Schöpf, Werner and the earliest work on American geology", Science, 172, (1971), 1333-4. • WBI.
1. German, 1787.
Beyträge | zur mineralogischen Kenntniß | des östlichen Theils | von | Nordamerika | und seiner Gebürge | von | D. Johann David Schöpf | [...3 lines of title and memberships...] | [ornament] | [rule] | Erlangen, | verlegt von Joh. Jakob Palm. 1787.
8°: π6 A-M8 N2; 104l.; , -194,  p. Page size: 220 x 130 mm. uncut.
Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [1 pg], Dedication to Hofrath Schreber.; [1 pg], Blank.; [8 pgs], Preface, signed D. Schöpf, July 31 [1787?].; -194, Text.; [1 pg], "Druckfehler."; [1 pg], Blank.
Rare. This title is among the first consequential works on American geology and is superceded only by the 1763 Epharta, Pennsylvania edition of Barba in American mineralogy. At the outset of his stay in America employed as a mercenary for the British army, Schöpf purposely began to record observations about the natural history, culture and goverment of the United States, and consequently he became the chief German student of American natural history. He writes in this work that his intention with regard to mineralogy and geology was to compare the American earths and stones with their European counterparts and describe the similarities and differences between the geology of the two lands. He accomplishes this in a sometimes brilliant text rooted in first hand observation. During his time in the military, Schöpf had accumulated information about much of New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and after his discharge he took a long arduious, overland route to visit the middle and southern states. Thoughout the journey he recorded his observations about the flora, fauna and mineralogy of the land. The Beyträge focuses on his observations about the mineralogy and geology of the country he passed through. The author was an observant naturalist, and all his works on the botany, mineralogy, geology and customs of the country were among the first accurate scientific views of the new nation.
English translation, 1972: Geology of Eastern | North America | By | Johann David Schöpf | An annotated translation of | Beyträge zur Mineralogischen Kenntniss | des Ostlichen Theils von Nord-Amerika | und seiner Gebürge, 1787 | By | Edmund M. Spieker | The Ohio State University | With a Foreword by | George W. White | University of Illinois | [With a Facsimile Reprint of the Original German Text] | Hafner Publishing Company | New York | 1972. 8°: [i]-x, -171, , -194,  p., illus., one folding map in back cover pocket.
[i], Blank.; [ii], "Contributions to the History of Geology" [=descriptions of 8 volumes so far published].; [iii], Series title page, "Contributions | To The | History Of Geology | Edited by | George W. White | Research Professor of Geology | University of Illinois | Volume 8."; [iv], "Portrait of Johann David Schöpf."; [v-vi], Title page, verso copyright information.; [vii], "Contents."; [viii], Blank.; ix-x, "Editor's Forword | by | George W. White."; 1-32, "Translator's Introduction | by | Edmund M. Spieker."; 33-34, "References for Notes."; 35-36, "Bibliography of Johann David Schöpf."; -153, Text of translation.; , Blank.; 155-171, "Index."; [3 pages], Blank.; [12 pages, (1)-194, (2) p. ], Facsimile reproduction of original text.; [In back cover pocket], Map of Schöpf's route.
Translation by Edmund M. Spieker [see note below] from Beyträge zur mineralogischen Kenntniss des Ostlichen Theils von Nord-Amerika und seiner Gebürge (Erlangen, 1787), with a foreword by George W. White [see note below]. Published as volume 8 in the series: Contributions to the History of Geology. The translator's long introduction provides notes on the Beyträge's historical significance, a biographical sketch of Schöpf, including his educational background, a discussion of Schöpf's other American work, an appraisal of the Beyträge, and a short discussion of his itinerary. This is followed by an excellent rendering into English of the original text, which is printed in its entirety afterward.
Bibliographical references: BL. • Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 482. • LKG: XIV 910. • NUC: 529, 184-6 [NS 0264016]. • Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 77754. • Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 1991.
2. German, 1788.
Reise | durch einige der mittlern und südlichen | vereinigten | nordamerikanischen Staaten | nach Ost=Florida und den Bahama=Inseln | unternommen in den Jahren 1783 und 1784 | von | Johann David Schöpf | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | [vignette] | Erster [-Zweyte] Theil. | [rule] | Mit einem Landchärtchen. | [rule] | Erlangen | bey Johann Jacob Palm. 1788.
Very scarce. A post-Revolutionary War work recounting the author's travels from New Jersey to the Bahamas. It provides a good overview of the botany of the region together with some mineralogical observations.
English transl., 1911: Travels in the Confederation [1783-1784] from the German of Johann David Schöpf, translated and edited by Alfred J. Morrison ... Philadelphia, W.J. Campbell, 1911. 2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: [I]-VIII, , -428 p., frontispiece (portrait of Schöpf), one map (Eastern United States). [Vol 2] 8°: , -344 p.
Translation by Alfred James Morrison [1876-1923] of Reise durch einige der mittlern und südlichen Vereinigten Nordamerikanischen Staaten (Erlangen, 1788).
Bibliographical references: BL. • LKG: XIV 911a. • NUC: 529, 184-6 [NS 0264026]..