Ancient Measurements => Lines

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Wed Oct 6 13:44:00 CDT 2004

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.


>In the early literature, at least for insects (Entomology), many
>european authors gave measurements in LINES (lignes in French), but
>there seems to be confuse about whether this was a uniform standard
>across European countries and what a line is equal to.
>Some earlier workers, Scopoli (1763, Entomologia Carniolica) printed a
>scale 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 (another
>earlier worker from 1810-30) used a line equal to 2.18.  Once I copied
>information from an "Webster's Unabridged Dictionary" which had a table
>indicating that a line from France was equal to 2.256 mm, 2.12 for
>England, 1.9 mm for Chile. Unfortunately I copied that information when
>I was a graduate student back in the mid 1960's and didn't note the
>edition of the Webster's.
>If any one have better information or citations on lines as a unit of
>measurement in taxonomy, I would appreciate them..
>F. Christian Thompson
>Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
>c/o Smithsonian Institution
>MRC-0169 NHB
>PO Box 37012
>Washington, DC 20013-7012
>(202) 382-1800 voice
>(202) 786-9422 FAX
>cthompso at e-mail
>  web site

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