Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/60

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52
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

grams, and the engraver boldly faces all the difficulties of texture and markings, and uses his best resources to overcome them. His success is notable, as the photographic reprints show, and work under Gesner must have contributed not a little to the advancement

PSM V47 D060 Gesner horse.jpg
Fig. 4.

of wood engraving. The cuts which are here reproduced are selected to exhibit the wide field which Gesner covers, and to show at the same time something of the resources of his engravers, and, while good drawings have been chosen, no attempt to pick out the best has been made. All the reproductions are considerably reduced, and they give a false impression of delicacy, although they faithfully exhibit the accuracy and versatility of the old engraver.

The names of very few of the draughtsmen or engravers are known, but Gesner says that Lucas Schrön drew the birds, and that Albrecht Dürer made the cut of the rhinoceros.

This statement has led many writers on wood engraving to reproduce this cut, which has thus become familiar to us, although it is by no means a fair sample of Gesner's illustrations.

The typography of Gesner's book and the binding of many of the copies are as notable as the cuts. In fact, all the craftsmen met the author in generous rivalry and mutual inspiration, and it would be difficult to produce a nobler monument than that which their combined labors created.

While Gesner has recorded many original observations, the work as a whole is a compilation undertaken for the express purpose of gathering in one book a summary of all trustworthy observations on living things. The work was done so thoroughly that it records for all time the status of natural science in his day, and forms a permanent landmark in its history.

Its educational influence upon his contemporaries was due to the attractive and simple way in which he presents the subject, but its scientific value to-day is due to the exhaustive completeness with which he compiled it.

He read nearly two hundred and fifty authors and his literary learning is almost unparalleled. The list of authorities quoted