JF Ptak Science Books Post 1910
Among graduated indicators the semi-physical allocations of measurable units time must be the most significant--or at least in modern times, over the last few hundreds years, when the popular class was able to afford time-keeping devices so that they could have a greater appreciation and control over time past and future. Simplified articulations of long periods of time is generally not a topic of illustration, however--art and illustration showing the development of a story is generally not a common occurrence in published form.
It is not terribly uncommon in ancient and early modern times, though. Trajan's Column is an excellent example of a sequential story, this told in stone; legends and myths and other stories are told in vases and friezes in Greece, and in various codices and altars in Mayan and Mixtec cultures.
But in more modern times the telling of the sequential stories in published form, again, is not a common thing. Even the telling of the story of the development of, say, a tree or the life cycle of a bird is just not a common occurrence, in spite of the more-popular appearance of graphical and expressive modes of displaying quantitative data in the mid-19th century.
Perhaps the most common of the early transitions in displaying these stories since the Renaissance have been in the telling of the lives of the Saints, or in the Passion of the Christ, or in the depiction of the legend of Adam and Eve (as in the work of Lucius Cranach, above). There are interesting cycles showing the Christian mythic formulation of the creation of the world, as in the case of Thomas Burnet's (illustrated title page to his) Sacred History of the Earth where there is a glorious seven-sphere display of the beginning and ending of our planet.
[Source, with full text, here.]
I wonder though if one of the most popular and common sequential depictions of an important and shared story is that of the ages of man/people: generally they show a pyramidal showcase of silhouettes or full-body portraits of one person as that body develops and decays over the major decades of a life.
They would normally appear in a configuration like the following:
And earlier on, very famously, like so:
(I've written about and identified these and other related depictions of the ages of man here.)
I came to think about all of this again after reading an interesting post in the excellent Public Domain Review blog where I found this absolutely delightful "barometric" rendition of the stages of life, a sequential, top-to-bottom graphical display of the stages, but without illustration. I cannot remember seeing such a "list" before, and was not familiar with the book from which it came (The art of invigorating and prolonging life, by food, clothes, air, exercise, wine, sleep, &c and peptic precepts, pointing out agreeable and effectual methods to prevent and relieve indigestion, and to regulate and strengthen the action of the stomach and bowels ... : to which is added, the pleasure of making a will ... which was printed in 1822 by Constable for Hurst/Robinson in London, the full text of which can be found at the Internet Archive).
And the "Rule of Seven" which precedes the longer list above:
It is interesting to note that this was the fourth edition of this work, and that the end of the book, the very synopsis for ideas of full life and longevity, the whole is topped off by a chapter on happy-making and your personal will.
There were many admonishments that made and still make perfect sense found in these pages: early to bed and early to rise sort of material. Plain, but sensible. Eating early. Dressing sensibly. Eating (for the time) modestly. Interesting recipes. Pure air making for "a diverted mind". Good advice for the mature bookbuyers there in first quarter 19th-century England. I imagine that most of those readers were no doubt born in the second-to-last decade of the 18th century, which means that their instructions on Daily Life business was from their parents who got their information from their parents, which means by 1822 much of the handed-down wisdom relating to diet and exercise was from the early 18th century. Perhaps this work was the breath of fresh air that people needed, making it popular enough to find its was into at least four editions. (Also worth noting is that the average resting pulse rate for the readers of this book was said to be 60, which I think is lower than the American national average today.)
There is of course a suffocating number of ill-advised recommendations, like for athletes, where the consumed foods should not include veal, lamb, pork, fish or cheese puddings, "or vegetables", which leaves little room for anything besides red beef, which was to be had in quantities, including beef pudding, jellied beef, and "beef tea". There was also a lot of beer and malt liquor drinking, with suggestions for "three pints of home-brewed" to be had with dinner, followed by three glasses of wine ('the less, the better")--then again, clean/drinkable water was a tough go at times, so beer was a common-enough stand-in. All things being equal, the advice utilized whatever was the good data for the time.
The long list from birth to death of supposed and impending accomplishments is interesting particularly for the "decaying" part (which is outlined in the second chart) of life, where we find that at age 54 a person should be conducting their mathematical works, after which (from 55 to 60) one is relegated to pursuing "former works". (After all, the period of general decay according to the Rules of Seven chart begins at age 6x7.) And it is here that the creative life ends, because from this point to the preparation for eternity the life is spent enjoying one's earthly works.
In any event, I just wanted to point out the unusual nature of the "William Jones' Andrometer", which is a display of information that is outside my usual experience.
I briefly considered including "logic trees" in this description, as they do tell a story, in a way. Particularly
Porphyry's Tree came to mind (which was a classification in diagrammatic form on different kinds of being) and then Pacioloi's summary of ratios from his Summa de arithmetica (1494). They do certainly represent a structured depiction of thought, but they are not a narrative, though they would provide the structure for one. Anyway, I'm convinced tonight at least that these diagrams don't belong in the sequential illustration discussion. (And in a weird way these diagrams enter the modern conversation so far as their overuse is concerned. Even in the Middle Ages the idea of the logic tree was being so over- and mis-employed that they would remind the modern reader of the "Top 15 (or whatever number) Photographs of Butterflies (and again, whatever he counted thing might be).)