How long is the Line?
I just happen to have Stearn's "Botanical Latin" on my lap - line[unspecified], 1/12"; English line, 2.1 mm; French line, 2.3 mm.Nothing about Chile.P.Stevens
In the early literature, at least for insects (Entomology), manyeuropean authors gave measurements in LINES (lignes in French), butthere seems to be confuse about whether this was a uniform standardacross European countries and what a line is equal to.Some earlier workers, Scopoli (1763, Entomologia Carniolica) printed ascale in the front of his work. His line was equal to 2.14 mm. Fairchild(1967, Pacific Insects 9: 75) wrote that the line of Wiedemann (anotherearlier worker from 1810-30) used a line equal to 2.18. Once I copiedinformation from an "Webster's Unabridged Dictionary" which had a tableindicating that a line from France was equal to 2.256 mm, 2.12 forEngland, 1.9 mm for Chile. Unfortunately I copied that information whenI was a graduate student back in the mid 1960's and didn't note theedition of the Webster's.If any one have better information or citations on lines as a unit ofmeasurement in taxonomy, I would appreciate them..F. Christian Thompson
Christine von Hayek at the then-British Museum (Natural History) had afantastic little scale with English, French and German lines on it. Theywere all different. She included the various sizes of each in her 1973paper "Reclassification of the subfamily Agrypninae (Coleoptera:Elateridae)" published in Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History)Entomology Supplement 20: 1-309. Unfortunately, my copy walked severalyears ago, and I have not been able to replace it, but it had all kinds ofwonderful information. If I remember correctly, it was in the back in anappendix. It could also have been in the 1979 Additions and Corrections,published in the Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology38: 183-261, as my copy had them bound together.Mike A. Ivie
Les mesures de longueur et de poids variaient légèrement non passeulement d'un pays à l'autre, mais d'une ville à l'autre et, quiplus est, d'une époque à l'autre ! En France, la Révolution fut l'occasion de commencer lanormalisation des unités de mesure. La recherche peut se faire dans des encyclopédies et doit portersur « pied » (et ses traductions dans différentes langues, foot, Fuß,etc.). Par exemple, dans le Larousse du XXe siècle (vers 1935) ontrouve à « mesure », les unités actuelles pour la France, lescolonies françaises, l'Angleterre, les États-Unis d'Amérique,l'Éthiopie, la Chine, le Japon, la Perse, etc., et les unitésanciennes pour l'Égypte, la Chaldée et l'Assyrie, les Perses, lesJuifs, les Grecs (système attique), etc. Voir aussi, en particulier avec espoir de trouver les unités demesure pour le Chili, l'Enciclopedia universal ilustradaeuropo-americana (plus de 140 000 pages formant 70 volumes de 1600pages chacun, plus 19 volumes de suppléments, édité à Barcelone en1909). Il faut se rappeler que 1 pied = 12 pouces, 1 pouce = 12 lignes, 1ligne = 12 cheveux. Voir aussi W. T. Stearn, Botanical Latin, 4e éd.,p. 111-112, Measurements, qui reproduit des données trouvées dansLinné (Philosophia botanica, 1751). En Allemagne on utilisait le Fuß décimal (10 Zoll) ou duodécimal(12 Zoll), mais aussi le Werk- ou Baufuß de 11 Zoll, et le Feldfuß(ou Landschuh) de 10 Zoll (Fuß décimal). Pour éviter les variations locales, on avait une notion de pied,de pouce, etc., impérial. On peut supposer que c'est souvent lanotion implicite utilisée dans les ouvrages d'histoire naturelle. En pratique, les variations dans la définition de ces unités delongueur (de l'ordre de quelques pour cent) n'ont pas vraimentd'influence sur les dimensions données par les auteurs, du moins ence qui concerne la mycologie. Jacques MelotP.-S. Puisque vous êtes entomologiste, vous n'avez peut-être pas lelivre de Stearn sous la main. Voici donc ce qu'écrit cet auteur : Before the adoption of the metric system, devised in France at theend of the eighteenth century, authors used the traditional unitsbased on the human body such as the foot (pes), the span (spithama),etc. Linnaeus's Philosophia botanica, 262, no. 331 (1751) provides aconvenient summary :CAPILLUS (i.e. a hair's width) = Lineae pars duodecima = 1/12 Parisline = 0.18 mm.LINEA = Linea una Mensurae parisinae = 2.25 mm.UNGUIS (i.e. the length of a finger-nail) = Lineae sex sive unciadimidia = 6 lines = 1.35 cm = 1/2 inch (approx.)POLLEX (i.e. the length of the terminal joint of the thumb) = Unciauna parisina = 1 Paris inch = 12 lines = 2.7 cm = 1 1/12 inch(approx.)DIGITUS (i.e. the length of the index finger) = Unciae duae = 3.4 cm= 2 1/6 inches (approx.)PALMUS (i.e. the width of the four fingers together) = Unciae tresparisienses = 3 Paris inches = 8 cm = 3 1/4 inches (approx.)DODRANS (i.e. the distance between the tips of the thumb and thelittle finger when extended) = Unciae novem = 9 Paris inches = 9Paris inches = 24.3 cm = 9 1/2 inches (approx.)SPITHAMA (i.e. the distance between the tips of the thumb and theindex finger when extended) = Unciae septem = 7 Paris inches = 19 cm= 13 inches (approx.)PES (i.e. foot) = Unciae duodecim = 12 Paris inches = 32.5 cm = 13inches (approx.)CUBITUS (i.e. the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middlefinger) = Unciae septendecim = 17 Paris inches = 46 cm = 1 1/2 feet(approx.)BRACHIUM (i.e. the distance from the arm-pit to the pit of the middlefinger when extended) orULNA = Unciae viginti quator = 24 Paris inches = 65 cm = 2 feet 1 inch.ORGYA (i.e. the distance between the tips of the middle fingers whenthe arms are extended) = 6 Paris feet = 1.95 m = 6 1/2 feet (approx.). J. M.
In the original Latin, Linnaeus also defines a line as the length of alunule (the white part at the base of a fingernail) extended from theroot of the fingernail towards the [tip of the] nail (but not on athumb). See . I don'tseem to have any lunules, so for me 1 line = 0 mm.In the same work, Linnaeus has a drawing of three Parisian inches,three English inches, and three Swedish inches(). In my copy, his 3Parisian inches as printed are 81 mm long. So 1 Parisian inch = 27 mmand 1 line (1/12 inch) = 2.25 mm, as Stearn says. His 3 Englishinches = 75 mm, so 1 English inch = 25 mm and 1 (English?) line =2.083 mm. His 3 Swedish inches = 73 mm, so 1 Swedish inch = 24.333 mmand 1 (Swedish?) line = 2.028 mm.Those are measurements straight from a 1770 edition of the PhilosophiaBotanica. You should allow for errors in printing, I suppose. But itseems you can't go wrong with Linnaeus if you say a line is about 2mm.Mark A. Garland
In a German "Lexikon der Mass- und Waehrungseinheiten" (Encyclopedia ofmeasurement and currency units. By Lutz Adron, Praesentverlag Heinz Peter,Guetersloh 1987) I found on p. 123: Paris 2.2558 mm, Rhineland (Germany)2.179 mm, Vienna (Austria) 2.195 mm, England and Russia 2.116 mm.In addition, I found in Wolfgang Trapp "Kleines Handbuch der Masse, Zahlen,Gewichte und der Zeitrechnung" (Small handbook of measurements, numbers,weights and calendars. Philip Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1992) on p. 229f. thatone Parisian foot (Pied de Roi) was 32.47325 cm long in the 18th century,32.48394 in the 19th, and that the latter was the "official" length (the22nd part of a Perche Royale) and comprised 144 Lines, resulting in2.255829 mm.These figures do certainly not clear the mess but rather proof it.
Here, on p. 11 is given: 1 English line = 2.117 mm, 1 German line = 2.191mm, 1 French line = 2.250 mm.Dr. von Hayek refers to a "six inch ivory ruler by Janson of RussellStreet, London" that "shows that the English, French and German linesdiffer in length". Greetings Michael Schmitt
Burmeister's Manual of Entomology (translated by Shuckard, 1836, p.26) says" A universally known measure, - the Paris line, - the twelfth part of aninch, has been adopted as unit for the determination of the length ofinsects."One-twelfth of an English inch is 2.117 mm, but the Paris line wasone-twelfth of a Paris inch (pouce) - i.e. 2.258 mm (all rounded up).Fortunately when the French aristocracy were "all rounded up", the metricsystem was introduced and we eventually adopted millimetres :-)Tony Irwin
Through the courtesy of Max Barkley at the Natural History Museum, I havefinally found the following data on the various "lines" used in early taxonomicliterature. On Page 11 of C. M. F. von Hayek's 1973 "Reclassification of thesubfamily Agrypninae (Coleoptera: Elateridae)" [published in Bulletin of theBritish Museum (Natural History) Entomology Supplement 20: 1-309] she states: "Asix inch ivory ruler produced by Janson of Russell Street London, shows that theEnglish, French and German lines differ in length." She then lists:
1 English line = 2.117 mm
1 German line = 2.191 mm
1 French line = 2.250 mm
Michael A. Ivie
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