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Porpoises from Klein's Historiae Piscium...

University of South Florida. Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. St. Petersburg, Florida.

Named after the late chairman of the board of the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent, The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library was built in the late 1970s overlooking Bayboro Harbor in downtown St. Petersburg. In 1968 the Bayboro campus library began in two small rooms with two hundred books. Today, as the school continues to grow, a new state of the art library is being constructed.

The University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, is recognized for its excellent marine science program. The John C. Briggs Collection of Ichthyology and Natural History is a natural complement. Acquired in 1989 from the now retired Marine Science Department faculty member, the Briggs Collection consists of more than 3,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals dating as far back as the sixteenth century.

Konrad Gesner. Conradi Gesneri Medici Tigurini Historiæ Animalium Liber IIII.. qui est de Piscium & Aquatilium animantium natura. Cvm iconibvs singulorvm ad vivvm expressis fere omnib. DCCVI... Cvm Priuilegiis S. Cæsareæ Maiestatis ad octennium, & potentissimi Regis Galliarum ad decennium Tigvri apvd Christoph. Froschovervm, Anno M.D.L.VIII. Book 4 only of Gesner's Historia Animalium.

Konrad Gesner was the most learned naturalist of the sixteenth century. Known as the German Pliny, he was a professor of natural history and medicine in Zurich. His Historia Animalium was the start of a more accurate description of zoology. The work began to appear in 1551 and four of the five volumes were published by 1558. The final volume was not published until 1587, twenty-two years after his death. In preparing the work, Gesner corresponded and obtained specimens and observations from a wide number of sources. His text summarized all known written knowledge of natural history and therefore his work depicts sea serpents and mermaids, though Gesner doubted to their existence. Gesner compiled information which he sets out in a systematic manner. He gave the name of the animal in the different languages; the native country, habitat, general appearance, and description of external and internal features; he discussed the intellectual faculties, the environment, different kinds of movement, and diseases of animals; the utility of the animals - hunting or domestic use; animals as food; medical uses, and the literary history of the animals including references to fables, proverbs, etc. Descriptions are arranged in the Aristotelian order and listed alphabetically. The sixteenth century was still a time of transition in classification and Gesner groups the hippopotamus, whales, fishes, molusca, etc., as aquatic animals. The most valuable aspect of his work today is the woodcut illustrations, numbering over a thousand. Their accuracy and charm have made them popular for centuries.

Jacob Theodor Klein. Iacobi Theodori Klein Historiæ Piscium Naturalis Promovendæ Missus Primus de Lapillis Eorumque Numero Craniis Piscium, Cum Præfatione: de Piscium Auditu. Accesserunt I. Anatome Tursionum II. Observata in Capite Raiæ... Gedani, Litteris Schreiberianis, 1740. Bound with part 2-4, 1741-42, 1744, and Second Series, 1749.

Jacob Theodor Klein's work on various groups of plants and animals was detailed and valuable in its day. His work, however, was done just before that of Carl Linnæus whose method of enumeration and classification created the field of systematic zoology as we know it today. Klein's work is now best known for its detailed and accurate illustrations.

M. le Comte de La Cépède. (Bernard Germain Etienne de La Ville sur Illon). Histoire Naturelle de Lacépède. Comprenant Les Cétacés, Les Quadrapèdes Ovipares, Les Serpents et les Poissons. Novelle Édition, Précédée de l'Éloge de Lacépède, par Cuvier; Avec des Notes et la nouvelle Classification de M. A.-G. Desmarest... Paris, Furne et Cie., Libraires- Éditeurs, Rue Saint-André-des-Arts, 55, 1844.

Comte de La Cépède was a French eighteenth century naturalist. He was a student and friend of Georges Buffon and Louis Daubenton who helped him obtain the important position of keeper of the collections of the Department of Natural History at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. La Cépède continued Buffon's Histoire Naturelle with his Histoire des Quadrapèdes Ovipares et des Serpents (1788- 89) and Histoire Naturelle des Reptiles (1789). In addition he wrote Histoire Naturelle des Poissons (1798- 1803) and Histoire des Cétacés (1804). Histoire Naturelle de Lacépède is a nineteenth century collected edition of these works illustrated with hand colored engravings.