This plate depicts a section of the strata to the low main coal at St. Anthon's Colliery near Newcastle upon Tyne. The left-hand side of the graph shows a ruler denoting the different layers on a scale of fathoms. A fathom equates to around 6 feet or 2 yards. The right-hand side of the graph shows more specific measurements of some of the layers in terms of fathoms, feet, and inches.
This plate is not in the French original and was likely added by a different author or the translator.
This book is volume 1 of 2 the first English translation of two books written by French geologist Faujas-de-St.-Fond (1741-1819), done in 1799, two years after the original French was published. In 1784 de-St.-Fond traveled throughout England, Scotland, and the Hebrides. While the original publication is written in French, de-St.-Fond did speak and understand English. A valuable skill during his travels, as he did not need the aid of a translator, which led to easy conversations with locals. Early naturalists considered these conversations vital to their research, as the local people were considered part of the environment. Locals lived in a sort of symbiosis with their environment, with their culture affecting the environment and their environment affecting their culture. These volumes contain important information on the application of sciences to English industries, as well as the geology of the British Isles. The most notable of the descriptions on the British Isles is that of the geology of the Western Isles of Scotland, which include a plate of Fingal's Cave at the Isle of Staffa.
These volumes were translated by an anonymous author who made several changes and updates to the French original. Firstly, they updated many, if not most, of the observations of the original author and added their own notes on mineralogical and chemical matters. They also added a plate to volume I, facing page 134, of coal strata in a mine near Newcastle. Two illustrations that were originally on separate plates in the French editions are on one page in the English translations. Additionally, the illustrations in volume II are reduced copies of the originals. In 1907 another limited edition (450 copies) was published in Glasgow, edited by Sir Archibald Geikie and containing his notes and memoir.
During his time in London de-St-Fond visited many notable scientists and academics including Joseph Banks (1743-1820), Tiberius Cavallo (1749-1809), John Lettsom (1744-1815), John Sheldon (1752-1808), and John Herschel (1792-1871). He also visited the Royal Society, Greenwich Observatory, Kew Gardens, the British Museum, and other places of historic or academic value. In Newcastle, he spent time learning and writing about the coal industry. In Manchester, he explored the collections of Thomas Henry (1734-1816) and in Birmingham, he met with James Watt (1736-1819) and Joseph Priestly (1733-1804). He was impressed with Priestly's laboratory and gives a long description of it. He also visited Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) and toured his pottery and glassworks facilities in Parker. Additionally, he spent time in Prestonpans visiting the alkali and sulphuric acid works and the Carron ironworks.
The entire volume has been digitized, along with both volumes of the first English translation, published in 1797. This book contains several plates illustrating different places de-St.-Fond visited and notable specimens or artifacts he saw. Selected pages and plates contain additional information relating to that page.
The Othmer Library also has microforms of the 1907 translation, printed in Glasgow, Scotland, which has not been digitized but is available for viewing in person by request at the Othmer Library.
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Faujas-de-St.-Fond, cit. (Barthélemy). “Section of Strata to the Low Main Coal at St. Anthon's Colliery.” In Travels in England, Scotland, and the Hebrides: Undertaken for the Purpose of Examining the State of the Arts, the Sciences, Natural History and Manners, in Great Britain, Vol. 1. London, England: James Ridgway, 1799. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/kz93pty.
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