Ling (fish) – Markus Elieser Bloch, 1782-1795

THE (COMMON) LING “Gadus Molva/Der Leng/The Ling/La Lingue.” (plate 69), copper engraving made by Ludwig Schmidt after the drawing of…

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Gadus Molva/Der Leng/The Ling/La Lingue.” (plate 69), copper engraving made by Ludwig Schmidt after the drawing of Krüger jr, for Markus Elieser Bloch‘s “Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische” published in Berlin between 1782 and 1795. With original hand colouring. Size: 19 x 38 cm.

According to Bloch in his Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische, a 12-volume, beautifully illustrated comprehensive work on fishes: “The ling is an inhabitant of the northern ocean and especially the North Sea. The one of which I am providing a drawing here, I received from Hamburg, where the fishermen from Heiligeland catch it frequently at the mouth of the Elbe. It was four feet long, seven and a half inches wide, five and a half inches thick, and weighed eighteen pounds. But there are also some from six to seven feet in length. He lives in the depths, lives on crabs, lobsters and other fish.

It has a very tasty meat, especially from February to May, and is then preferred to that of cod. At this time its liver is white and filled with a tasty oil, which is extracted in abundance over a gentle fire.

After herring and cod, this fish is most important because of its large quantity. In England it is often salted and consumed both in the country and sent abroad in large quantities.

In Norway, as well as in England, it is prepared like cod, laberdan and clipfish, and is better-lasting on long sea voyages than cod. Oil is also made from the livers and the swim bladder is made into glue similar to isinglass.”

Bloch’s labour on the “Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische” occupied a considerable portion of his life, and is considered to have laid the foundations of the science of ichthyology. The publication was encouraged by a large subscription, and it passed rapidly through five editions in German and in French. Bloch made little or no alteration in the systematic arrangement of Peter Artedi and Carl Linnaeus, although he was disposed to introduce into the classification some modifications depending on the structure of the gills. To the number of genera before established, he found it necessary to add nineteen new ones, and he described 276 species new to science, many of them inhabitants of the remotest parts of the ocean, and by the brilliancy of their colours, or the singularity of their forms, as much objects of popular admiration as of scientific curiosity.

Bloch is considered the most important ichthyologist of the 18th century.

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