Peter Kolb, 1719 - the buck without a name

The traveller and naturalist, Peter Kolb, was the first to describe the animal in the region of the Cape of South Africa. The first edition of his book, in 1719, contained a drawing which was labelled as a Blue Buck ("Vorstellung eines blauen Bockes")

Unfortuatnely, this seemingly was a mistake, and the wrong animal had been labelled. This was recognised half way through the printing process. The title for this drawing was changed in the first Dutch edition of 1727. The illustration below (recently copied by Kate Foster) had at that time been changed and embellished. It was instead described as "Een Vreemde Bok" - a strange or foreign buck. Elsewhere in the text, this image was referred to as "Bok die geen naam geeft" (the buck without a name).

This mistake means that the famous French naturalist, Buffon, was actually the first naturalist to publish an image of part of a Blue Antelope in 1764. Buffon's book contained a drawing of a mutilated horn - but this was mistakenly titled “Une corne de tzeiran” (The horn of a tzeiran)! Later opinion (Allamand, 1778, Mohr 1967) determined that this indeed was a drawing of a bluebuck horn, and that Buffon had mistakenly taken it for a Siberian animal, a tzeiran. Presumably this was the kind of mistake that could happen in an era when skins were sent back in number by naturalists in all different directions, in an excited hunt for new animals as well as a classificatory system.

Full details: Husson AM and Holthuis LB. ‘The earliest figures of the Blaauwbok, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas 1766) and of the Greater Kudu, Tragelaphus strepsiceros (Pallas 1766)’ in Zoologische mededelingen uitgegeven door het Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Histoire te Leiden, 49 (1975-1976) p 57-63
The drawing below is a copy of the original by Kate Foster

Kolb drawing