JF Ptak Science Books Post 2677
There have been perhaps 150 posts on this blog relating to data visualization and the elegant display of information--this one, found by chance yesterday while browsing, is really pretty early for its type of accomplishment. The image relates heights of canals in the Midlands, and is one of three illustrations for Samuel Galton's "On Canal Levels" which appeared in Thomas Thomson's Annals of Philosophy; or, Magazine of Chemistry, Mineralogy, Mechanics, Natural History, Agriculture, and the Arts1 in the first half of 1817. The article is illustrated with three plates, including a curiously interesting graph of canal lengths, a cross section of "the line of canal from the river Mersey at Runcorn Gap to the River Thames at Brenford, with the Branch to Paddington Wharfs", and finally a glorious hand-colored plate ("Synoptic View of 18 Canals in reference to the summit of the Birmingham Canal, 1816").
Galton (1753-1832, of Birmingham) was Quaker arms manufacturer (a not-uncommon occurrence in my experience) and the grandfather of the polymath Francis Galton, a successful industrial who was active in the Lunar Society. This short paper is basically a collection of data, and he presents it in an interesting and provocative way--this in relation to the cross section and graph, which are early means for the time in expressing quantitative data in a more easily-managed and comparable form. (Galton wrote: "It occurred to me several years ago that the lockage of canals and their plans and sections would afford the means of ascertaining with a considerable degree of comparative precision the relative height or level of all the places immediately situated upon those canals which communicate with one another and that in consequence a number of fixed points would be obtained from which the relative level of any objects in the vicinity of those canals might be more conveniently measured...")
- (Apologies for the unevenness in clarity of the sans--the book in which they appear is tightly bound, and I didn't risk opening the book beyond necessary for fear of damaging it. That said, if you click and expand the images are a lot sharper....)
1. Annals of Philosophy; or, Magazine of Chemistry, Mineralogy, Mechanics, Natural History, Agriculture, and the ArtsVolume IX, January to June, 1817. vi, 496pp, with 8 engraved plates, one being a folding hand-colored graph (see following).Provenance: R. Crum Brown (F.R.S.) for the University Library of Edinburgh, with their bookplate. This volume contains interesting and substantial papers by Berzelius, Dalton, Galton, and others:
J.J. Berzelius, "Chemical Description of Thorina, a New Earth", pp 452-460, the full title referencing the "Examination of some Minerals found in the Neighborhood of Fahlun..." by J.G. Gahn, J. Berzelius, C. Wallman, and H.P. Eggertz. This appears to be the first English translation of Berzelius paper leading to the discovery of thorium, the Swedish version published earlier in 1817 in the Afhandlingar (vol 5). There is in fact a very brief mention of the discovery on pp 160-161 of this "Annals" volume in the Scientific Intelligence section, though it is the longer article (though not quite as long as the original) that is our subject of interest here. The Annals mention is the second listing in "Index to the Literature of Throium, 1817-1902, Volume 44", by Cavalier Hargrove Joüet.
The volume is headed by a long article on the history of science by the editor, Thomas Thomson, running a very long and thorough 88pp (pp 1-89);
John Dalton, "On the Chemical Compounds of Azote and Oxygen, and on Ammonia", pp 186-194 (#53 in Albert Leslie Smyth's Dalton bibliography, noting quick translations for the Annales de Chimie and Annalen der Physik);
Edward Daniel Clarke, :"Further Observations respecting the Decomposition of the Earths...", pp 89-98;
W.H. Gilby, " Sme Observations on the Geology of New South Wales", pp 114-118;
James Sowerby, "Chemical Classification of Minerals", pp 124-131;
Porrett, "Observation in the Flame of a Candle", pp 337-342;
Gay-Lussac, "Biographical Account of Collet-Descotils", pp 417-421;
Biot, "Researches respecting the Laws of Dilatation of Liquids at all Temperatures", pp 363-381 and 431-445;
"Carolan", "On the Power of Spiders to convey their Threads from one Point to another, and of flying through the Air", pp 306-310;
Also, Horsfield on "The Poison Tree of Java" (pp 202-215 and 265-274); and lastly, a one-sentence note on the height of Table Rock Mountain (Cape Town), at 1087 yards;
and many others.