Richard Bowdler Sharpe

Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English ornithologist, was born Nov. 22, 1847. Sharpe was a prominent ornithologist in his own right, publishing Monograph of the Kingfishers from 1868 to 1871, and Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise in 1891 and 1898, neither of which we have in our collections…

Gaston Tissandier

Gaston Tissandier, a French balloonist, was born Nov. 21, 1843. Tissandier made a number of high-altitude balloon ascents, beginning in 1868, and he often took along his brother Albert, a talented artist. Consequently,Tissandier’s books (and he wrote quite a few) tend to have lively and accurate images, which is rare in this genre, as most balloon illustrations were made well after the fact, by artists who were often not even present…

George Pollard, Jr., and Owen Chase

George Pollard, Jr., was captain of the whaling ship Essex, and Owen Chase was his first mate. Neither was really a scientist, but both were present at one of the most impressive impact studies of modern times. On Nov. 20, 1820, the Essex was rammed amidships by a huge sperm whale, estimated to be 85 feet long, just about the length of the ship. Pollard and Chase were out in separate whaleboats at the time, hard at the chase of a pod of whales, with only a skeleton crew on board the Essex…

Nicolas Lemery

Nicolas Lemery, a French chemist, was born Nov. 17, 1645. Lemery was one of the first of what we call “mechanical chemists”, who tried to explain chemical reactions by the interactions of small particles of different shapes and sizes. Lemery proposed, for example, that acids consisted of corpuscles with tiny points or spikes, while bases had little receptors for those spikes…

Odoardo Beccari

Odoardo Beccari, famous primarily for discovering the giant corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum), was born on 16 November 1843 in Florence. After attending university in Pisa and Bologna, he left for London, where he studied natural history at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Finding refuge from the city’s smog in Kew’s botanic oasis, the naturalist met many of Britain’s foremost naturalists, from William Jackson Hooker and Joseph Dalton Hooker to Charles Darwin…