A man who questioned the rules


Some days you celebrate just because something happened on that day, and some days just because a person who did an amazing thing was born. Case in point: On this day in 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus was born, and he later posited that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the Solar System.


On 19 February 1839, the astronomer’s birthday, a committee of twelve citizens was founded to promote a monument. The total cost was 10,449 thalers, almost half of which was for the casting in bronze by Fischer in Berlin. The clay model was the last work of Christian Friedrich Tieck (1776–1851).

                 Nicolaus Copernicus was born on the 19th of Feburary, 1473 in Thorn in Poland.


Charming panorama of Torun from the Vistula River is one of the symbols and distinctive features of the city.

Torun city revolves around one astronomer, who literally lives today in the city

Nicolas Copernicus Thorunensis. 

I grew up in Torun, city of which most of you in Scotland have never heard but in the Poland it is a famous place, one of Poland’s oldest cities. Torun’s Old Town is one of the World Heritage Sites and it is absolutely one of the most beautiful sites to visit. Copernicus lives on in Torun even till date. Statues and shops, universities, hospitals , and restaurants are all named after this man who observed that it was the earth that rotated around the static sun.

Torun is not a large city, and it was easy to walk around town and look for interesting sites.

Map of the tourist routes Torun Old Town

Torun  with Hanseatic tradition, it has for ages played a major role in the commercial relationships between Northern and Western Europe this city has made me more open to and curious about different cultures around the world.


Zeglarska Street on the left view on cathedral of St John the Baptiser and St John the Evangelist, the oldest Gothic church in the Land of Chelmno (its roots dates from the first half of 13th century), a place of baptism of Nicholas Copernicus. It has one of the biggest bells in Poland named “Tuba Dei” (“God’s Trumpet).

I believe Torun has made me more open to and curious about different cultures around the world.


The Old Town Hall – one of the most outstanding achievements of medieval Gothic architecture in Europe dating from 13th century, rebuilt in renaissance style in early 17th. The former administrative centre. Nowadays it houses the District Museum in Torun.

I discovered that many my private and conservation life was connected to Copernicus lives too. I born in hospital named after Copernicus .


The building of the Children’s Hospital in Torun, (the place where I was born in xxxxxx????), architect Otto Schmidt, November 1890

And if you asked me many years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would’ve confidently answered: “I want to be a conservator”. My first art lessons were on Copernicus Street close to two Gothic tenement Copernicus houses now Copernicus Museum.  The houses are considered to be the birthplace of the astronomer.

dom kopernika

Copernicus House, Kopernika Street no. 15 & 17


Copernicus House (Kopernika Street no. 15 & 17) – a place of birth of famous astronomer. Today – Museum of Copernicus House.

In Torun , I finished Nicholas Copernicus University, Faculty of Fine Arts, and I received  degree in Preservation of Cultural Property specializing in the Conservation of Paper and Leather Historic Objects. One of my work  was treatment of the most important scientific publication of the 16th century

COPERNICUS, Nicolaus  De revolutionibus orbium coelestium


The Baslean edition of the famous “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” by Copernicus (1566), The Museum of Przypkowski in Jedrzejów, Poland was initiated and largely collected by Felix Przypkowski (1872-1951),( my old project – image before conservation treatment)

Copernicus’ book  with contemporary binding of flexible vellum  is considered to be one of the most important works in the history of science, sparking the Copernican revolution and changing our view of the universe.

The work was published in Nuremberg in 1543 under the name of Nicolai Copernici Torinensis (Copernicus always emphasized his origins adding “a native of Toruń”). De revolutionibus placed for the first time the sun at the center of the universe and described the earth’s diurnal rotation and its annual rotation around the sun. Copernicus denounced the geocentric belief in the immobility of the earth as based on mere appearance. In order even to entertain an idea such as a heliocentric universe Copernicus had to break with virtually all current knowledge: astronomical, metaphysical, theological and, most basically, simple sensory perception. I found some story on the Internet, some of which go so far as  to imply that he was the first to put bread and butter together.


Article in The Glasgow Herald Jul 19, 1971; The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. It is said to be the longest running national newspaper in the world. It is printed at Cambuslang, just outside Glasgow

Did Copernicus butter his bread? Story that Copernicus discovered the magic of buttered bread when he was put in charge of defending the besieged castle of Allenstein in Prussia, where he was nominally and put into service as a canon of the Cathedral of Frauenberg. This being the early sixteenth century, Copernicus found he was losing as many soldiers to the plague as he was to the enemy. Turning his powerful mind to the problem, he hypothesized a link between the plague and the vile food the soldiers were eating. To control contamination, Copernicus experimented with buttered bread. Amazingly, it seemed to work—and it tasted real fine too. Copernicus had a hit on his hands; buttered bread quickly became a dietary staple. Certainly the story is fun.


To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge. ~ Nicolaus Copernicus

If you’re in Torun, you’ve got to pay a visit to the birthplace of the man who banished the earth from the center of the universe and  has become the glorious symbol of the brave scientist who thinks outside-the-box!

Happy Birthday to Nicolaus Copernicus Torinensis !!!!!!


About conservationwithella

Hello, I'm Ella, Art on Paper Conservator & Preservation Manager at Glasgow University Archives and Special Collections. This blog is a walk through my daily life, work, arts & crafts history, my discovery that everything in my life is enough to be a continuous source of reflection. I started blogging to entertain myself but I hope you enjoy it too. I'm sure you agree, that Life without art is nothing. :)

One response »

  1. Pingback: Copernicus was wrong (maybe) | cartesian product

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