Sten Carl BielkeBielke, Sten Carl (1709-1753).
Swedish. Baron, government official,
patron of science, and naturalist. One
of the founders of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences. Private pupil of
Linnaeus. Close friend of Pehr Kalm,
whose voyage to America he supported
financially. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
tells Linnaeus that he has something very important to forward, namely a letter from a friend who holds Linnaeus in very high esteem and sends seeds of rare plants from Siberia.
The friend is Johann Georg GmelinGmelin, Johann Georg
(1709-1755). German. Voyager, botanist
and chemist. At the initiative of
empress Anna of Russia he spent ten
years (1733-1743) exploring Siberia. In
1749 he became professor of botany and
chemistry at Tübingen. Together
with his nephew Samuel Gottlieb he wrote
Flora Sibirica (1747-1769).
Correspondent of Linnaeus. , and he is very anxious to come into contact with Linnaeus. Gmelin is a young botanist, who has travelled in Siberia for ten years. Originally, he had brought a large collection of books, but during he third year of the journey, a fire destroyed that together with his collections and his diaries. According to Bielke, that was favourable for Gmelin, since he started from the beginning again, and among the few books he managed to acquire had been Linnaeusís works. Gmelin had gone through the same areas once more, now using Linnaeusís methods, and that had been very prosperous.
Gmelin is now preparing a Flora SibiricaGmelin, Johann Georg Flora
Sibirica, sive Historia plantarum
Sibiriae (St Petersburg 1747-1769). [Gmelinís work was published in 1747], and he needs Linnaeusís help. He has done much on his own, with very few mistakes, according to Bielke, but these are easily excused. Some seeds are enclosed, but more will follow in the fall, and listed separately.
However, the matter must be treated with great care, since it is a crime to reveal this kind of information outside the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Arts in St. Petersburg [Imperatorskaja akademija nauk, Imperial Academy of SciencesImperatorskaja akademija nauk,
Imperial Academy of Sciences
Russian. Imperial Academy of Sciences of
St Petersburg, founded in 1725. Its
publications are Commentarii
Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis
Petropolitanae, 1-14 (1726 -
1744/1746 [i.e. pub. 1728 - 1751]) and
Novi Commentarii Academiae
Petropolitanae, 1-20 (1747/1748 -
1775 [i.e. pub. 1750 - 1776]).
]. If Linnaeus were to reveal to anybody that he had received unpublished plants from Siberia, Gmelinís crime would be discovered, since nobody else could have informed Linnaeus. Especially, a plant that seems to have no stamens must be handled with great discretion.
Much is also to be expected from the botanist Georg Wilhelm StellerSteller, Georg Wilhelm
(1709-1746). German. Voyager, who
sailed with Vitus Bering and returned
with important collections from
Kamchatka. when he returns from America.
Bielke has for a long time been promised seeds that Johann Gottfried HeinzelmannHeinzelmann, Johann Gottfried
(?-?). German. Botanist. Travelled in
eastern Russia. had collected in central Asia. However, Bielke is sceptical, since the seeds were collected six years ago and presumably no longer viable.
Bielke has heard that the widow for 10 ducats offers Traugott GerberísGerber, Traugott (1710-1743).
German. Medical doctor, botanist,
director of the oldest botanical garden
in Moscow.. collection of seeds for sale. Gerber had died three years ago. Bielke is not sure it is worth the price, although it contains seeds of very rare plants from all parts of Asia. The widow does not dare not to keep the collection secret.
Heinzelmann had seen barley and wheat growing wild in the deserts of central Asia.
Enclosed is a list of Sibirian seeds sent [fol. 7].