Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer vel eros volutpat, consequat diam ac, eleifend dolor. Mauris risus ante, tempus in interdum elementum, consectetur id odio. Praesent lorem dolor, sollicitudin sed metus at, laoreet vestibulum dolor.

BLAIR, Patrick (d. 1728)

Osteographia Elephantina; or, A full and exact Description of all the Bones of an Elephant, which died near Dundee, April the 27th. 1706. with their several Dimensions. To which are premis’d, 1. An Historical Account of the Natural Endowments, and several wonderful Performances of Elephants, with the manner of Taking and Taming them. 2. A short Anatomical Account of their Parts. And added, 1. An exact Account of the Weight of all the Bones of this Elephant. 2. The Method us’d in preparing and Mounting the Skeleton. 3. Four large Copper Plates, wherein are represented the Figures of the Stuff’d Skin, and prepared Skeleton, as they now stand in the Publick Hall of Rarities at Dundee; with the separated Bones in several Views and other Parts of this Elephant. In a Letter to Dr. Hans Sloane.
London, G. Strahan and W. Innys, 1713.

Imposing and early memoir on the anatomy of the elephant, since Blair could compare as well as describe. He gives a close description, accompanied by good drawings of the skeleton, which constitutes the main part of his work. Blair was the first to see the prepollex and the auditory ossicles. The latter are figured natural size. His method of articulating the skeleton is explained at considerable length. The brain exhibits human characteristics, and the female genitalia, including the broad ligament, are figured. He gives a good account of the proboscis with its muscles, blood vessels and nerves, and notes the absence of a gall-bladder (Cole). Blair worked as a surgeon in Dundee, Scotland, for some years; and when, on 27 April 1706, a female Indian elephant died there, Blair dissected it. He presented his findings, with an extensive review of the literature, in a letter to Sir Hans Sloane of the Royal Society in 1710, later published separately in 1713 with four folding engraved plates. In 1712 Blair was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and the same year was given honorary M.D. by King’s College, Aberdeen. Blair was a Jacobite, and was sentenced to death as such on 7 July 1716; he was, however, pardoned after he sucessfully appealed to Sir Hans Sloane and others, such as Richard Mead, to intercede with the authorities on his behalf. Blair appears to have been a practicing surgeon for most of his life, and in a communication to the Royal Society in 1717 he gave the first description of congenital hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (Garrison-Morton 3419) reprinted in Ravitch, ’The Story of Pyloric Stenosis’ in Surgery 48 (1960), pp 1117-43. But it is for his contributions to botany that Blair is most famous – not so much for his natural interest as a physician in the medicinal properties of plants but more for his work on plant sexuality. In his Botanick Essays (1720) Blair expounded the then new view as to the sexual characters of plants, and contributed greatly to the extension of the knowledge and the confirmation of the truth of this matter in England. As well as discussing the question of sex in plants, Blair dealt in his book with the structure of plants, the methods of classification, the nourishment of plants, and the circulation of sap. (See Henrey, British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800. II (1975), pp 48-9).

Collation: Pp (4), title and dedication to Dr. John Arburthnet, 116. With 4 folding engraved plates.

Binding: Later (ca. 1800) calf, gilt fillet around sides, green spine label, marbled endpapers.

References: DSB, II, pp 188-89; Cole, A History of Comparative Anatomy (1944), pp 325-28; Sachs, History of Botany (1890), pp 390-91; Morton, History of Botanical Science (1981), pp 240-43.

+ Read more