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[BORN, Ignaz von (1743–1791)] Johannes Physiophilus

Specimen monachologiæ methodo Linnæana. Tabulis tribus aeneis illustratum, cum adnexis thesibus e pansophia.
Augustæ Vindelicorum [Augsburg], Aloysii Merz, 1783.

The beautifully printed first edition of this famous satirical work classifying types of religious orders, according to the Linnaean system on the basis of their exterior marks in the same way as Linnaeus had used for plants and insects, pictured in 40 figures on the three engraved plates. The text on verso of title is signed: "Linnaeus de noxa insectorum." The book was prohibited in the Index librorum prohibitorum, described in Dec. 6, 1784. In the preface the author tells how "monks" provide the missing link in the evolutionary chain between apes and Man, resembling Man in physical appearance but generally behaving more like monkeys. The author hopes to inspire men of means to build menageries to house foreign and exotic monks such as the "Brahmin", the "Dervish", and the exceedlingly rare "Lama". If the specimen cannot be captured, he suggests the inclusion of a stuffed exhibit or of one pickled in alcohol. Each chapter deals with a different European religious order such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Trappists and Carmelites, and provides a brief description of the appearance and habits of each "species" together with a bibliography. Ignaz von Born was born in Karlsburg, Transylvania. At the age of 13 he began his studies in Vienna with the Jesuits but spent only 16 months as a member of that order before becoming thoroughly disillusioned. He studied law for a time in Prague and then toured the Netherlands, France and Germany studying mineralogy. He returned to Prague in 1770, and worked in the department of Mines and the Mint. In the same year Born visited the principal mines of Hungary and Transylvania. His account of this expedition is preserved in a series of lively and interesting letters addressed to the mineralogist Johan Jacob Ferber, one of Linnaeus' pupils (Prolepsi plantarum, 1763). In 1776 Born returned to Austria and wrote several books on mineralogy including a very influential study in 1786 dealing with extracting precious metals through amalgamation. In 1776 Born was summoned to Vienna by the Empress Maria Theresia to arrange and describe the natural history collections. His magnificent catalogue of shells with hand-coloured plates was one of the great natural history books produced in Vienna (Soulsby 2408). He was a leading figure in the "enlightenment" movement, and a friend of Mozart; he is the "Sarastro" in Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Collation: 24 leaves. Title and text within typographical border. With 3 engraved folding plates with 40 figures. Tab. I signed "Aug. Vind. J. Schaff."

Binding: Contemporary leather-backed pink boards.

References: DSB, II, pp. 315-316; Weber, Möncherei IV, 400: " . . . bleibt des Meisterstück und die witzigste aller Satiren."

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