Scientist of the Day - Francis Trevelyan Buckland
Francis Trevelyan Buckland, known as Frank, was born Dec. 17, 1826. Frank was the son of William Buckland, the eccentric Oxford Professor of Geology who searched caves for fossils and discovered the first dinosaur. Frank grew up surrounded by both fossils and living animals, as his father kept not only bones but a large menagerie in his house. Frank seems to have avoided the fossil bug, but living nature was his delight for his remaining years. The silhouette above (first image) shows Frank playing under the table in the family homestead.
Buckland published four volumes of nature observations, known collectively as Curiosities of Natural History (1857-75), which we would like to acquire for the Library some day. One hallmark of the Curiosities is the abundance of caricatures, which often appear as frontispieces to the separate volumes. Separately printed scientific caricatures were not new, but they were rarely included in books—until Buckland's Curiosities. Since we do not have the Curiosities, we reproduce these caricatures from Elizabeth Gordon’s Life of Buckland (1894). They show: Dura antiquior (Ancient Dorsetshire), by Henry De la Beche (second image), Awful Changes (showing Professor Ichthyosaurus, lecturing to his class about a human skull, also by De la Beche; third image), and a sketch of William Buckland discovering glacial scratches in rocks (the artist’s signature says: “Scratched by T. Sopwith”; fourth image). The last image is a more conventional portrait of Frank Buckland, done on the occasion of his death in 1880.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City