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Elementary Geology in the 1830s

Geologische plate 3  Geologische plate 4  Geologische plate 5 
     

The latest 'product' to be added to the Library's popular map sale is a series of three illustrated plates entitled 'Geologische Elementarkarte' (1838), taken from the Archives. The three sheets (probably from an original set of six) were clearly devised to be seen together as at the top of each is a continuous ideal section of the Earth’s crust intended to show the order of deposition of stratified rocks and their relations to unstratified rocks. Underneath are detailed lithographs of fossils, views and other geological images arranged according to the time period from which they originated. 

Not much is known about the three plates, other than that they were in the possession of George Bellas Greenough, and formed part of the bequest given to the Society in 1856. The plates still bear Greenough's original labels on which he states that the contents had been taken without acknowledgement from William Buckland's 'Bridgewater Treatise' [Geology and mineralogy considered with reference to natural theology, published in 1836]. Whilst the striking top section is obviously based on the one included in the ‘Bridgewater Treatise’, in fact the publishers, Im Verlage des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, reference a number of contemporary works from other leading scientists of the day including Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). Hence the plates describe what was known of the subject at the time of publication – a lesson in elementary geology if you like. 

To see the sheets in more detail, click on each plate.

Information on how to purchase reproductions of the plates can be found in our Picture Library.