Monday, January 21, 2013

Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) by John Fred


Conrad Gesner the son of a furrier born in Zurich, Switzerland was an important inventor and Swiss Naturalist. He studied at universities of Strassburg and Bourges before he moved to Zurich to finish his doctorate of medicine. He had a big interest in botney and his most famous work is that of the Historiae Animalium is one of the first know pictorial catalog of animals in the medieval period. This was important because prior to his book the categorizing of animals was cluttered with many mythical creatures as well as distorted recordings of real animals. His works were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and even put on the banned list of books due to Gesner's being a Protestant. 

Gesner's Pencil

Gesner's important invention however was that of the graphite pencil encased in wood, which would the be beginnings of what we would today consider a modern pencil. This would have been used in his many trips to the field while Gesner studied zoology in his homeland of Switzerland. Gesner would live out his days studying different categories of science in his homeland. 

Sources: the Lead in your Pencil Gesner's Historiae Animalium
The New York Times/Gesner's Animals


  1. I enjoyed reading your blog, however, it seems like you rushed through it. I am very interested in learning a little more about what was in Gesner's "Historiae Animalium". Are there any specific inventions that are mentioned in his work?

  2. I think you could go into more detail about the pencil such as how and why it was created. I understand that your sources did not have much detail about the actual pencil but I an sure there are other sources out there that contain more information than just that the pencil was encased in wood.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.