Scientist of the Day - William Jardine
William Jardine, a Scottish naturalist, was born Feb. 23, 1800. From 1833 to 1843, Jardine edited and published a 40-volume natural history, known as Jardine’s Naturalist’s Library. Each volume or set of volumes was commissioned from an expert, illustrated by the best available artists, and engraved and published by the noted Edinburgh printer William Lizars. For example, the volume called The Natural History of Parrots was written by Prideaux John Selby, one of the best ornithologists of the time, and illustrated by the talented Edward Lear (second image). One of the attractive features of many of the volumes is that they often include a biographical tribute to some famous naturalist. The very first volume in Jardine’s Library, on Hummingbirds (fourth image), has a frontispiece portrait and memoir of Linnaeus (third image), while the Parrots volume has a portrait and memoir of Thomas Bewick, the noted wood engraver (fifth image). Of the 40 volumes in the “Naturalists Library,” 14 were devoted to birds, and we acquired nearly all of these bird volumes at an auction in 2010. Before that, we had only the 2 volumes on pigeons, which we displayed in our Grandeur of Life exhibition.
The other images displayed are a Blue and Yellow Macaw (first image) and a Lesser Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo (sixth image), both from the Parrots volume.
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