19th century date system

Margaret K. Thayer mthayer at FIELDMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Sep 9 15:36:14 CDT 2005

On a few staphylinid beetle specimens that my 
student Dave Clarke borrowed from BMNH, he found 
dates written in a system that I can only partly 
figure out.  Both seem to use fractions of years 
rather than months, but the details are a little 
uncertain. The full label data are quoted verbatim below.

(1) Hili Madjedja N.Nias 4 de trim.'95 I.Z. 
Kannegieter/ M. Cameron Bequest. B.M. 1955-147.

I think in this one that "4 de trim.'95" refers 
to trimesters (3-month periods), but am not sure 
if the "4 de" (with the de printed as a 
superscript) means the fourth trimester 
[presumably Oct-Dec] or the fourth (day) of 
(which?) trimester of 1895.  The first seems more 
likely, though I'd feel more confident knowing 
exactly why the "de" is there. (For example, if 
it were in English, I'd expect "4th trim.", 
German, "4. trim.", or French "4me trim.", 
possibly with superscript suffixes in the first and last.)

(2) Bedagei. int. Sumatra's O.K. ± 600' 2. de 
Sem.89. I.Z. Kannegieter/ M. Cameron Bequest. B.M. 1955-147.
In this one, it appears that "2. de Sem.89" 
probably means the second semester [=half-year, 
presumably July-Dec] 1889, though the exact 
interpretation of "de" (also a superscript) is 
puzzling here, too, as I would expect "2nd Sem." 
for English, "2. Sem." for German, or "2me Sem." 
for French, again possibly with superscript suffixes in the first and last.

Does anyone know anything more about this system 
of dating that could either confirm or refute what I've suggested above?

We have pretty well pinned down the localities as 
being (1) on a small island (Nias) just off the 
west coast of Sumatra and (2) inland from the 
east coast (östliche Küste) of Sumatra (at ca. 
600 feet elevation), but if anyone happens to 
know further details they'd be welcome.

Thanks very much,

Margaret K. Thayer, Ph.D.               mthayer at fieldmuseum.org
Associate Curator, Zoology -- Insects   FMNH 
personal web page:   http://tinyurl.com/4g4zz
Field Museum of Natural History          FMNH:  http://www.fieldmuseum.org
1400 South Lake Shore Drive               Beetle 
Tree of Life project: http://beetletree.org/
Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
PHONE: +1-312-665-7741 (direct-dial)
FAX: +1-312-665-7754
Austral Staphylinidae project, including Staphyliniformia databases:

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