Category Archives: Illustrations

ILLUSTRATION: World Without Water (Telluris Theoria Sacra) – Thomas Burnet

493px-Thomas_Burnet_by_Jacob_Ferdinand_VoetSacred Theory of the Earth

Thomas Burnet’s best known work is his Telluris Theoria Sacra, or Sacred Theory of the Earth. The first part was published in 1681 in Latin, and in 1684 in English translation; the second part appeared in 1689 (1690 in English). It was a speculative cosmogony, in which Burnet suggested a hollow earth with most of the water inside until Noah’s Flood, at which time mountains and oceans appeared. He calculated the amount of water on Earth’s surface, stating there was not enough to account for the Flood. Burnet was to some extent influenced by Descartes who had written on the creation of the earth in Principia philosophiae (1644), and was criticised on those grounds by Roger North. The heterodox views of Isaac La Peyrère included the idea that the Flood was not universal; Burnet’s theory was at least in part intended to answer him on that point. [SOURCE]

Burnet’s system had its novel features, as well as those such as the four classical elements that were very traditional: an initially ovoid Earth, a Paradise before the Flood that was always in the spring season, and rivers flowing from the poles to the Equator. Herbert Croft published criticism of the book in 1685, in particular accusing Burnet of following the Second Epistle of Peter rather than the Book of Genesis. During the 1690s John Beaumont and Johann Caspar Eisenschmidt picked up on Burnet’s ideas. They engendered a great deal of controversy at the time, and Burnet defended himself against selected critics, John Keill and Erasmus Warren.

Isaac Newton was an admirer of Burnet’s theological approach to geological processes. Newton even wrote to Burnet, suggesting the possibility that when God created the Earth, the days were longer. However, Burnet did not find this explanation scientific enough. Lengthening the days would require an intervention on God’s part. Burnet tightly held the belief that God created the world and all its processes perfectly from the start.

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“Map of the world, shown as if the oceans were dried up. Thomas Burnet was the first Englishman to attempt a scientific account of the origin of the earth. His treatise, Telluris Theoria Sacra, is a curious blend of geography and archaeology, which aroused considerable interest at the time. California is shown as an Island, but no Northwest passage, an unusual concession for an Englishman of this era.”

Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps

Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 3

Today is the third and final part of my series of selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

I will warn you now that this third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 2

Today is Part 2 of selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

The third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 1

The Great Houdini by Beryl Williams & Samuel Epstein I become interested in magic in the 5th grade of elementary school. Through Scholastic Books Services, I purchased The Great Houdini by Beryl Williams & Samuel Epstein for fifty cents. When I got home from school, I started reading the book and stayed up all night reading it until it was finished.

Over the years, I have visited the Houdini Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada (now burned down), visited his grave in New York, followed auctions of his memorabilia, and have read many books that probe deeper into his life. I occasionally do magic performances for my wife’s K-3 kids at the school she retired from.

So, to say the least, I truly do love magic.

Below, and over the next several blogs, are selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

The third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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