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STENO, Nicolaus.

(1631 – 1687)

(Born: Copenhagen, Denmark, 10 January 1631; Died: Schwerin, Mecklenburg, Germany, 25 November 1687) Danish physician & theologian.

Steno (or non-Latinized Stensen) attended the University of Copenhagen from 1656 to 1660. He then went on to Amsterdam, but received an M.D. in absentia from the University of Leiden in 1664. Steno became professor of anatomy at the University of Padua in Italy. He was also appointed house physician to Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany. During this decade, the greater part of Steno's available time was taken up by his studies of human anatomy, geology and catholism. This is also the period when his greatest contributions to science were written. In 1672, he returned for a time to Denmark, but came back to Italy in 1674. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1675, Steno devoted the remainder of his life to the church in a progression of appointments. Steno ended his life as a bishop in Numster, Germany.

A skilled anatomist and dissector Steno was the first to show the role of the parotid gland in the production of saliva. He also studied the structure of muscles and sinews, and applied mechanical laws to the principal of muscular contraction.

Biographical references: ADB: 36, 51. Barr, Index to Biographical Fragments, 1973: 249. Dansk Biografisk Lexikon: 16, 310-22 [by J. Petersen & V. Hintze]. DSB: 13, 30-5 [by G. Scherz, and listed under Stensen]. ISIS, 1913-65: 2, 504-5. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 413-4. Meisen, Prominent Danish Scientists, 1932. Poggendorff: 2, cols. 1002-3. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, 2185-8, Suppl. 1 (1986), 2, 799-800 & Suppl. 2 (1996), 2, 1107-8. SBA: Scandinavian Biographical Archive: A-307, 259-310. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 1604. Worm, Forsøg til et Lexicon over Danske, 1771-84.

Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter, 1669

1. Latin, 1669 [First edition].
[In red:] Nicolai Stenonis | [in black:] De Solido | Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento | [in red:] Dissertationis Prodromvs. | [in black:] Ad | Serenissimvm | [in red:] Ferdinandvm II. | [in black:] Magnvm Etrvriæ Dvcem. | [ornament] | [in red:] Florentiæ | [rule] | [in black:] Ex Typographia sub signo Stellæ MDCLXIX. | Svperiorvm Permissv.

4°: π1 A-K4; 41l.; [2], 1-78, [1] errata, [1] blank p., one folding engraved plate and a folding printed leaf of "Explicatio." Title page printed in red and black with an engraved vignette. The plates shows different crystal forms and a diagrams of stratifications of the earth's crust. Page size: 362 x 248 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; 1-76, Text.; 77-78, Printing permissions.; [1], Errata.; [1], Blank.; [At end], One folding plate, "Explicatio Figvrarvm," measuring 360 x 470 mm.

Rare. The greatest contribution to crystallography, paleontology and geology made during the seventeenth century was Steno's De Solido Intra Solidum Naturaliter. Within this volume, intended as an introduction to a much larger never published work, Steno while studying quartz observes for the first time the fundamental crystallographic law of constancy of interfacial angles, which was confirmed and generalized over a century later with the invention in 1783 of the contact goniometer by Arnould Carangeot [see note below]. Steno was also the first to recognize the principle of superposition that states sedimentary rocks were originally laid down horizontally, while non-horizontally results from strata being deformed by later forces. As an integral concept within this principle, the author realized that the oldest strata were the first to be formed and that overlying stratum must have been deposited at later times. If this were not enough "firsts" for one book, the Prodromus was also important in the history of paleontology, as it was among the earliest publications to attribute fossils to be the petrified remnants of animals and plants.

The plate was originally created as a large double plate, half engraved and half printed. However, due to its large size it is common to find it bound into the book as two plates.

Arnould Carangeot. (Born: Rheims, France, 1742; Died: Meaux, France, 1806) French crystallographer. Need Biography.

Bibliographical references: Adams, Birth and Development, 1938: 357-64. Burke, Origins of the Science of Crystals, 1966: 20-21, 31, 55-56, 60 & 33. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 1955: no. 90. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 505. Garboe, Axel., "Nicolaus Steno (Niels Stensen) and Erasmus Bartholinus. Two 17th century Danish scientists and the foundation of exact geology and crystallography", Danmarks Geologiske Undersøgelse, IV. Række, 3 (1954), no. 9, [1]-48 p., illus: 1-48. Groth, Entwicklungsgeschichte, 1926: 241. Horblit: no. 96 [title page reproduced]. Kobell, Geschichte der Mineralogie, 1864: 16-18. LKG: XVII 6. Norman Catalog: 2, ??, 2013. Norman Sale Catalog: 1:809. NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906773]. PPM: Printing and the Mind of Man: no. 151. Zittel, History of Geology, 1901: pp. 19, 25, 26, 132, 277 & 295-97. (Carangeot) DSB: 3, p. 61-2 [by A. Birembaut].

2. Latin, 1904 [Facsimile reprint].
[Title taken from the front cover of the facsimile.] Facsimile-Edition. Ed. W. Junk. No. 5 | [rule] | N. Steno | De Solido Intra Solidum | Naturaliter Contento | [short rule] | Florentiae 1669. | [ornate rule] | Exempl. No.  . . . . . . | [ornament] | W. Junk | Berlin NW., Rathenower Stra. 22. | 1904.

4°: π1 A-K4; 41l.; [2], 1-78, [1] errata, [1] blank p., one folding plate, title page of original reprinted in red and black, head and tail pieces. Page size: 250 x 185 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; 1-76, Text.; 77-78, Printing permissions.; [1], Errata.; [1], Blank.; [At end], one folding plate, "Explicatio Figvarvm."- 360 x 470 mm.

Scarce. A facsimile reproduction of the orignal 1669 edition, printed as number 5 of the Berlin bookseller W. Junk's famous series of important scientific works. Only 100 copies are implied to have been printed.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906776].

3. Latin, 1679 [2nd edition].
Nicolai Stenonis | De Solido | Intra Solidum | Naturaliter Contento | Dissertationis | Prodromus. | Ad | Serenissimvm | Ferdinan- | dum II. | Magnum Etruriæ | Ducem. | [ornament] | Lvgd. Batav. | Apud Jacobum Moukee, 1679.

12°: 115, [1] p., two folding plate.

Rare. The text of the first edition has been reset in this issue.

Bibliographical references: NUC [no copy listed].

4. Latin, 1763 [3rd edition].
Viri Celeberrimi Nicolai Stenonis ... Dani De Solido Intra Solidum Naturaliter Contento Dissertationis Prodromus. Ad Serenissimum Ferdinandum II {Magnum} Etruriæ Ducem Editio Secunda Etrusca. Pistorii A.S. MDCCLXIII. Ex Typographio Publici. Præsidibus Permittentibus. Prostant etiam Florentiæ apud Vicentium Landi Bibliopilam prope Monasterium Monachorum Cassinensium.

4°: 73 p., plate.

Rare. This edition was prepared by the Italian medical writer Anton Matani [1730-1779].

Bibliographical references: Berlinische Sammlungen: 3, 325. BL [no copy listed]. Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen: 66, 544. NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906774]. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 2, ??.

5. Latin, 1842 [4th edition].
E Dissertatione Nicolai Stenonis De Solido Intra Solidum Naturaliter Contento Excerpta In Quibus Doctrinas Geologicas Quae Hodie Sunt In Honore Facile Est Reperire; curante Leopoldo Pilla. Florentiae: Ex Typographia Galilaeiana, 1842.

4°: 28 p., with a reduced plate.

Very scarce. Edited by Leopoldo Pilla [1805-1848]. This is a very incomplete edition.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906775].

6. Latin, 1910 [5th edition].
Nicolai Stenonis | Opera | Philosophica. | Edited by Vilhelm Maar | At the Expense of the Carlsbergfond | Vol. I. [-II.] | [ornament] | Copenhagen | Vilhelm Tryde | MCMX.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 4°: [4], I-XXXII, [1]-264 p. Title in red and black with woodcut device. [Vol 2] 4°: [4], [1]-365, [1] p., 2 folding plates (one colored), numerous text illus. Title in red and black with woodcut device.

Contents: [Vol 1] [2 pgs], Title page, verso ornament.; [1 pg], "Contents Of Volume I."; [1 pg], Blank.; [I]-XXXII, "Life And Works."; [1]-218, Text of Steno's works.; [219], Sectional title page, "Notes."; [220], Blank.; [221]-264, Text of notes.

[Vol 2] [2 pgs], Title page, verso ornament.; [1 pg], "Contents Of Volume II."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-282, Text of Steno's works.; [283]-310, "Appendix."; [311]-359, "Notes."; [360]-365, "Index Of Person Mentioned."; [1 pg], "Corrections."

Very scarce. A modern life and writings of Steno, edited by Vilhelm Maar [see note below] and containing a corrected text of the original edition of the De Solido which is found in volume 2, pages 181-227. The present work also comprises all works of a scientific nature, which are known to have come from him. It embraces not only the scientific work which he published or left to others to publish, but also those titles which appeared without his knowledge such as various correspondence to Thomas Bartholin and Cosimo II and his lectures on the anatomy of the brain. The first volume begins with a lengthy biography of Steno after which his writings are presented in chronological order. This work was published in an edition of 350 copies.

Vilhelm Maar. (Born:      ; Died:      ) Danish writer. Need Biography.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906796]. Osler, Bibliotheca Osleriana, 1969: no. 4017. (Maar) Dansk Biografisk Lexikon.

English editions

Prodromous, 1671

7. English, 1671.
[Contained within a double rule box:] The | Prodromous | To A | Dissertation | Concerning | Solids Naturally Con- | tained within Solids. | Laying a Foundation for the Ren- | dering a Rational Accompt both of | the Frame and the several Changes of | the Masse of the Earth, as also | of the various Productions in the same. | [rule] | By Nicolavs Steno. | [rule] | English'd by H.O. | [rule] | London, | Printed by J. Winter, and are to be Sold | by Moses Pitt at the White-Hart in | Little Brittain, 1671.

8°: A-H8; 64l.; [16], 1-112 p., one folding plate, 220 x 282 mm., showing 25 figures. Page size: 168 x 108 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [6 pgs], "The | Interpreter | To The | Reader."; [6 pgs], "The | Heads | Of This | Treatise."; [1 pg], "Errata."; [1 pg], Publisher's list.; 1-112, Text.; [At end], One folding plate.

Rare. Translation probably completed by Henry Oldenburg [see note below] of De Solido Intra Solvm Natvraliter Contento Dissertationis Prodromvs (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669). As valuable as Steno's contributions were to the development of the earth sciences, they likely would have gone unrecognized in England had the book not caught the attention of Robert Boyle. He was most likely instrumental in persuading Oldenburg to prepare this translation of the Prodromus.

The translator in his notes "To The Reader" first explains the circumstances for producing this translation. He then "publickly attests" that the honorable Robert Boyle in a manuscript about gems and other precious stones has written that the reason for their transparency was they were once fluid. That opaque gems and other medical stones are derived from earths. Oldenburg's narrative then closes with his testament to others researching science: "... several judicious persons do employ themselves in the inquiry after the observables in the greater parts of the world ... for the discovery of the works of God and the operations of nature." This introduction is then followed by a detailed table of contents that acts as an index to the text. The translation of the text follows the structure of the original Latin edition.

Please note that while all early editions of Steno's Prodromous are rare, this 1671 English translation appears to be much rarer. Uncommonly, this translation is also found bound up at the end of Boyle's Essay about the Origine and Virtues of Gems (1st ed., London, 1672), implying that the publisher had a difficult time selling Steno's work by itself. This is further driven home by the fact that the title page of another Boyle work, Essays of the Strange Subtility, Determinate Nature, Great Efficacy of Effluviums ... to which is added The Prodromus to a Dissertation concerning Solids Naturally contained within Solids (London, 1673) specifically calls for the inclusion of the Steno translation within the book, but only a handful of copies of this combination are known to exist.

Henry Oldenburg. (Born: Bremen, Germay, c1618; Died: Charlton, near Greenwich, England, 5 September 1677) English scientist. Oldenburg graduated from the University of Utrecht in 1641, and he matriculated at Oxford from 1657 to 1658. He taught in the Paedogogium of Bremen. Later he became a professor in the newly established University of Dorpat, in what is now Estonia. Although it is known that Oldenburg matriculated in the University of Utrecht in 1641, nothing is known with assurance about what he did during the following twelve years, but there is presumptive evidence that he was a tutor during these years. In 1656 he became tutor to Boyle's nephew, Richard Jones, later the third Viscount Ranelagh and first Earl of Ranelagh. Oldenburg made a profession of scientific administration. He founded a system of records in the Royal Society that is still followed, created an international correspondence of scientists, and founded the first scientific journal, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Oldenburg began publishing in 1665 the Philosophical Transactions, which were his personal enterprise, to make money, although he never made as much as he hoped. He also translated papers for the London Gazette. He also translated and published works from abroad. He translated at least two of Boyle's works into Latin, and he appears to have functioned effectively as the publisher for a number of Boyle's works.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906801]. (Oldenburg) Allibone, Dictionary of English Literature, 1859-71. BBA: I 831, 153-174. Biographie Universelle. DNB: 14, 988-90. DSB: 10, 200-3 [by A. Rupert Hall]. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Poggendorff: 2, cols. 321-2. Waller, Dictionary of Universal Biography, 1857-63. Watt, Bibliotheca Britannica, 1824. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: pp. 1279-80.

8. English, 1916.
The Prodromus | Of | Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation | Concerning A Solid Body Enclosed By | Process Of Nature Within A Solid | An English Version With An Introduction | And Explanatory Notes | By | John Garrett Winter | University Of Michigan | With A Foreword | By | William H. Hobbs | University Of Michigan | New York | The Macmillan Company | London: Macmillan And Company, Limited | 1916 | All rights reserved.

4°: [2], [i]-vii, [1], 169-283, [1], [6] publisher's list p., 7 plates (numbered V-XI). Printed wrappers. Page size: 275 x 195 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Blank, verso "The volumes of the University of Michigan | are published by ..."; [i], Series title page, "University of Michigan Studies | Humanistic Series | Volume XI | [rule] | Contributions To The History | Of Science | [rule] | Part II. Nicolaus Steno's Disserta- | Tion Concerning A Solid Body | Enclosed By Process Of Nature | Within A Solid."; [ii], "The Macmillan Company | ..."; [iii-iv], Title page, verso "Copyright, 1916, | By Francis W. Kelsey, Editor. | ..."; [v], "Preface."-signed John G. Winter, March 15, 1916.; [vi], Blank.; vii, "Contents."; [1 pg], Blank.; 169-174, "Forward."-signed Wm. Herbert Hobbs, February, 1916; 175-187, "Introduction | I. The Life Of Nicolaus Steno."; 188-193, "II. The Writings Of Steno."; 194-203, "III. Bibliography Of The Prodromus."; 204, Quotation from Zittel, Geschichte der Geolgie und Paläontologie.; 205-276, Text.; 277-283, "Index."; [1 pg], Blank.; [6 pgs], Other titles in the series.

Very scarce. Annotated translation by John Garrett Winter [see note below] of De Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento Dissertationis Prodromvs (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669). This work was published as The University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series. Contributions to the History of Science, 11, part 2, and is today almost as difficult as the first English translation of 1671 to obtain.

The work begins with a forward by William Hobbs [see note below] describing the scientific age in which Steno wrote the Prodromus. The significant contributions made by this work to the sciences of crystallography, geology and palaeontology are recounted by Hobbs. The introduction written by Winter then gives an overview of Steno's life, a list of his other writings, and a bibliography of the editions and the translations of the Prodromous. The introduction closes with a list of selected references. The body of the translation is then persented. Winter has added explanatory notes to highlight historic or scientific aspects of the text. A general index closes the work.

Scattered through out the text are the plates. These break down as two showing Steno's portrait, one being a color facscimile of the title page of the original Latin edition, one depicting the "tastefully designed headpiece and initial letter," and the last three reproducing the figures of the original plate.

Facsimile reprint, 1968: Nicolaus Steno | (1631-1686) | The Prodromous Of Nicolas Steno's | Dissertation | Concerning A Solid Body Enclosed By | Process Of Nature Within A Solid | An English Version with an introduction and explanatory notes | by John Garrett Winter | With a foreword by | William H. Hobbs | (Facsimile of University of Michigan Humanistic Studies, Vol. XI, pt. 2, 1916) | Introduction by | George W. White | University of Illinois | [ornament] | Hafner Publishing Company, Inc. | New York and London | 1968. 8°: [6], [i]-vii, [1] blank, 169-283, [1] blank p., 6 plates (labelled V-XI).

[1 page], Blank.; [1 page], Series title page.; [2 pages], Title page, verso "Copyright © 1968, Series Title and Introduction | by | Hafner Publishing Company | ..."; [2 pages], "Editor's Introduction | by | George W. White."; [i], "University of Michigan Studies | Humanistic Series | Humanistic Series | Volume XI ..."; [ii], "Plate V.- Portrait of Steno in the Pitti Palace."; [iii], Original title page [1916].; [iv], Blank.; V, "Preface."- signed John G. Winter, 15 March 1916.; [vi], Blank.; vii, "Contents."; [1 page], Blank.; 169-174, "Forward."- signed Wm. Herbert Hobbs, February 1916.; 175-203, "Introduction."; 204, Quote about Steno from Zittel's Geschichte.; 205-270, Text.; 271, Translated printing permissions.; 272-73, "Explination of the Figures."; 274, Explanation of Plate X.; 275, Plate X.; 276, Explanation of Plate XI.; 277-83, "Index.;; [1 page], Blank.

Modern reprint of the English 1916 translation, with an editorial forward by geological historian George White [see note below]. Published as volume 4 of the series, Contribution to the History of Geology.

George Willard White. (Born: North Lawrence, Ohio, U.S.A., 8 July 1903; Died: Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A., February 1985) American geologist & historian of geology. White earned his bachelor's degree at Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio, and his master's and doctor's degree from Ohio State University. Between 1926 and 1941, he rose from instructor to department head at the University of New Hampshire. From 1941 to 1947, he was a professor of geology at Ohio State University, where upon he went to the University of Illinois, becoming head of the geology department, retiring in 1965. He specialized in glacial and groundwater geology, as well as the history of geology. He is remembered fondly by his many students.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906800]. (White) ABA: II 668, 55. American Men of Science. 5th ed., New York, 1933. Carozzi, A.V., "Tribute to George W. White," Earth Sciences History, 2 (1983), no. 1, 1-3. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, 2415, Suppl. 1 (1987), 1, 887 & Suppl. 2 (1996), 2, 1196. WBI.

French edition

9. French, 1832.
Prodromus d'une dissertation sur le Solide contenu naturellement dans un autre solide; extrait et traduit par M. Elie de Beaumont. Paris, 1832.


Rare. Translation by Elié de Beaumont of De Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669). It is an incomplete translation that first appeared in Annuals des Sciences Naturelles. Paris: 25 (1832), 337-77, under the article title "Fragmens geologiques tires de Stenon, de Kazwini, de Strabon et du Boun-Dehesch."

Another earlier French translation that was never issued separately is contained in the Collection Academique de Dijon, Partie Etrangere: 4 (1757), 377-414, under the title, "Extrait de la Dissertation de Nicolas Stenon sur les corps solides qui se trouvent contenus naturellement dans d'autres corps solides."

Bibliographical references: NUC [no copy listed].

Danish edition

10. Danish, 1902.
... Foreløbig meddelelse til en afhandling Om faste legemer, der findes naturlig indlejrede i andre faste legemer. I oversættelse ved August Krogh og Vilhelm Maar. Med indledning og noter. København: Gyldendal, 1902.

4°: [6], xii, 106 p., frontispiece (portrait), plate. Title in red and black. Page size: 260 x 205 mm.

Scarce. Translation by August Krogh and Vilhelm Maar of De Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669). The edition of this translation was limited to 700 numbered copies.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906789].

German edition

11. German, 1923.
Vorläufer Einer Disser-|tation Über Feste Körper, | die innerhalb anderer fester Körper | von Natur aus eingeschlossen sind | von | Nikolaus Steno | Florenz 1669 | [tapered rule] | Übersetztung von | Karl Mieleitner. | [rule] | Mit einer Tafeln. | [rule] | 1923 | Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft M.B.H. | Leipzig | Okl. 209.

8°: 68 p., one folding plate. Page size: Book

Scarce. Translated by Karl Mieleitner from De Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento Dissertationis Prodromvs (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669). This book was published as number 209 of Ostwald's series Klassikern der Exakt Wissenschaften.

This translation was reprinted in 1988 as a two volume set with a new introduction: De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento. Dissertationis Prodromus. Florenz 1669. Faksimiledruck nebst der deutschen Übersetzung Karl Mieleitners von 1923. Dabei: Eginhard Fabian, Versuch einer Annäherung. Berlin Akademie 1988 (78; 173 p.).

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906806].

Italian edition

12. Italian, 1928.
Prodromo di una Dissertazione sue Corpi Solidi Naturalmente Inclusi in Altri Corpi Solidi. Tradotto dal Latino con Prefazione e Note a Cura di Giusepppe Montalenti. Aggiuntevi le lettere Originali in Italiano sulle grotte di Gresta e Moncoden. Roma: Casa Editrice Leonario da Vinci, 1928.

4°: 127 p.

Very scarce. Translation by Giuseppe Montalenti [see note below] of De Solido Intra Soldvm Natvraliter Contento (1st ed., Florentiæ, 1669), with notes and commenary added by the translator. Published as Universitas Scriptorum nos. 16-17.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 567, 389-91 [NS 0906798].