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WORM, Ole.

(1588 – 1654)

(Born: Aarhuus, Denmark, 13 May 1588; Died: Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 September 1654) Danish physician.

Worm was a professor of natural philosophy and medicine at the University of Copenhagen. He began collecting minerals in 1620.

Biographical references: Bartholin, T., Thomæ Bartholini Oratio in excessum viri incomparabilis Dn. D. Olai Wormii, medicinæ professoris regii. Hafniæ: Typis hæredum Melch. Martzani: apud Georg. Holst. Bibl., 1655. 75, [5] p. Dansk Biografisk Lexikon: 19, 186-95 [by J. Petersen & L. Wimmer]. Ehrencron-Müller, Forfatterlexikon, 1974-89: 9, 191-7. Garboe, Geologiens Historie i Danmark, 1959-61: 1, 25-34, portrait (painting by Karel van Mander). Garboe, Axel., "Thomas Bartholin og rav-studiet i Danmark. Et blad af Mineralogisk Museums historie", Meddr dansk bot. Foren., 11, (1947), 97-116, 3 figs. Hovesen, E., Laegen Ole Worm, 1588-1654: en medicinhistorisk undersogelse og vurdering. Arhus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 1987., 367 p., illus., index, biblio. Jorgensen, F., ???????????. København K, Udgiveren, Rigsarkivet, Rigsdagsgården 9, 1970-1. Poggendorff: 2, col. 1368. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, 2462-3. SBA: Scandinavian Biographical Archive: A-361, 234-299 & A-361, 300-306. Schepelern, H.D., Museum Wormianum. Dets Forudsætninger og Tilblivelse. København: Wormianum, 1971. 435 p., 106 unnumbered illustrations. [Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Copenhagen. Gives historical reflections on Worm's life and his reasons for collecting. A summary in English is on pages 367-383, and a bibliography on pages 384-399. See Dissertation Abstracts International, 37, (1977), 3285-C.]. WBI. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 40 & 128. Worm, O., Breve fra og til Ole Worm. København: Munksgaard, 1965-68. 3 vols., portraits, facsimiles. [Worm's letters: vol. 1 covers the years 1607-1636, vol. 2, 1637-1643 and vol. 3, 1644-1654]. Worm, O., Ole Worm's Correspondance with Icelanders. Edited by Jakob Benediktsson. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard, 1948., xxxvii, 552 p.

Museum Wormianum, 1655

1. Latin, 1655.
Museum Wormianum. | Seu | Historia | Rerum Rariorum, | Tam Naturalium, quam Artificialium, tam Domesticarum, | quam Exoticarum, quæ Hafniæ Danorum in | ædibus Authoris servantur. | Adornata ab | Olao Worm, Med. Doct. | &, in Regiâ Hafniensi Academiâ, olim | Professore publico. | Variis & accuratis Iconibus illustrata. | [vignette] | Lugduni Batavorum, | Apud Iohannem Elsevirivm, Acad. Typograph. | [short rule] | cI{[Backwards c] I[Backwards c]c lv}.

2°: *6 A-Z4 2A-2Z4 3A-3C4; 202l.; [12], [1]-389, [3] index p., engraved portrait of Worm, engraved double page plate of the museum, title vignette, numerous woodcuts some of which are full page. Head and tail pieces, engraved initial letters at the beginning of each Liber. Page size: 370 x 225 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [4 pgs], Dedication to King Friderico III of Denmark and Norway, signed "W. Worm, Olai Fil."; [3 pgs], "Olaus Worm, | Med. Doct. & Profess. Regius, | Lectori | S.P."; [1 pg], "Authores | Quorum in hoc Opere mentio fit." [Lists about 200 authors mentioned in the text.]; [2 pgs], "Index Capitvm." [Table of contents.]; [Double plate of the interior of the museum.]; [Portrait of Worm.]; 1-136, "Musei Wormiani | Historiæ | Liber Primvs. | Sectio Prima. | Cap. I. | De fossilibus in genere."; 137-238, "Musei Wormiani | Historiæ | De | Vegetabilibvs Rarioribvs | Liber Secundus."; 239-345, "... | De | Animalibvs | Liber Tertius."; 346-389, "... | De | Artificiosis | Liber Quartus."; [3 pgs], "Index | Præcipuarum rerum, quæ in hoc opere continentur."

Plates: The double plate of the interior of the museum measures 295 x 380 mm. It has the following description incorporated into the design, "Musei | Wormiani | Historia | Lugd. Batavorum | Ex Officina Elseviriana | Acad. Typog: 1655." The portrait of Worm measures 280 x 185 mm. It is signed at the bottom "C. van Mander pinxit. G. Wingsdorp sculp." It consists of an oval frame surrounding Worm's face and shoulders. The frame is engraved with the text, "Olaus Worm D. Medicinæ In Academia Hafniensi Professor Regius A. M.DC.LIV. Ætat:LXVI." The engraving is overprinted at the bottom with two Latin quotations. One in signed "Constanter" and the other "Th. Bartholinus."

Very scarce. Edited and published posthomously by Ole's son, Willum Worm [1633-1704]. Museum Wormianum is not a mere inventory of Worm's collections as was typical of the time. Instead it is a detailed, descriptive and historical catalog of the objects described. For more than a century after its publication, this work was a recognized textbook of archaeology, and it is still valuable as a summary of the scientific opinion on natural history and especially mineralogy and museology of the seventeenth century.

Worm's collection took shape between 1620 and 1654. It covered the kingdoms of nature and art, starting with the lowest, namely stones and minerals, then progressing toward the more complex plants, animals, and finally to artifical objects created by man. Within this systematic context Museum Wormianum describes all manner of various curiousities in the author's collection of ancient objects, including decorated ivory, coins, stuffed birds and fish, water plants, dried plants, shells, minerals, precious stones, etc. The volume usually gives marvellously detailed descriptions of the objects, and being a medical man, Worm very often included notes prescribing the medical uses of the objects.

Aside from the scientific aspects, the main beauty of the book are the more than one hundred, faithful woodcuts illustrating the described objects. Some of these have been copied from the earlier works of Aldrovandi, Mercati and Calceolari [qq.v.], but many are original, done under Worm's supervision in Copenhagen. Included is a fine portrait of Worm, aged 66, but the most notable is the double page plate showing the interior of the museum, from which many individual objects are identifiable. Particularly interesting are the shark, whale and polar bear hanging from the room's ceiling. Worm began collecting minerals in 1620 and the first three chapters of this work are devoted to describing the stones, fossils and minerals in the collection. These chapters are equally well illustrated.

From 1648 until his death, Worm had been court physican to King Frederic III [1609-1670] of Denmark. He also shared with the King a interest in collecting natural history objects. After Worm's death, it may have been at the behest of the King that Museum Wormianum was published. This is perhaps indicated by the flattering dedication provided by the books editor, Willum Worm, and the fact that King Frederic purchased Worm's collection soon afterward for incorporation into the Royal Kunstkammer, where several of Worm's objects are still identifiable today.

The text is divided into four Liber or books. The mineralogical portion is contained in Liber I. It contains three sections of which the first concerns fossils and earths, the second covers stones and the third describes the metals. Liber II describes botanical specimens. Liber III covers animals and Liber IV covers artifical or manmade objects.

Starting in 1635, the physician Georg Segeri [1629-1678] began publishing an outline of Worm's arrangement. These appeared in volumes under the title, Synopsis Methodica Rariorum in Museo Olai Wormii (Lugduni Batavorum, 1635; 1642; 1645; 1653; 1658).

Another issue, 1655: Museum Wormianum ... Amstelodami, apud L. et D. Elzevirios, 1655. Identical to the Lugduni Batavorum issue except for the place of publication on the title page. Apparently the Amstelodami imprint is the much rarer issue.

Karel van Mander III. (Born: 1610; Died: 1672) Dutch illustrator/engraver. Mander III was appointed painter to the Danish court. He painted portraits of many Danish courtiers.

Bibliographical references: Beekman, Systematische Mineralogie, 1906: 27-8. BL. BMC: 5, 2362. CBN: 227, cols. 217-8. Cobres, Deliciæ Cobresianæ, 1782: 1, 98-9 ["Ein schönes Werk."]. Ehrencron-Müller, Forfatterlexikon, 1974-89: 9, 191-7. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 563. Garboe, Geologiens Historie i Danmark, 1959-61: 1, 25-34. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 281. LKG: XVII 110. Murray, Museums, 1904: 1, 104-6. Nissen (ZBI): no. 4473. NUC: 674, 433-5 [NW 0457553]. Schepelern, Early Copenhagen Collections, 1985. Schepelern, H.D., "The Museum Wormianum reconstructed: a note on the illustration of 1655", Journal of the History of Collections, 2, (1990), 81-5. Schepelern, H.D., Museum Wormianum. Dets Forudsætninger og Tilblivelse. København: Wormianum, 1971. 435 p., 106 unnumbered illustrations. [Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Copenhagen. Gives historical reflections on Worm's life and his reasons for collecting. A summary in English is on pages 367-383, and a bibliography on pages 384-399. See Dissertation Abstracts International, 37, (1977), 3285-C.] [Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Copenhagen.]. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 41, 128 & 228. (Mander III) Bryan's Dictionary of Painters, 1903-4: 3, 274. Thieme & Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon, 1907-50: 23, 608 [by I. Buhl].