Skip navigation
0

New Years Eve Invitation & Menu NHMPL 056867.jpg

 

 

One of the gems of London's history that you can still visit today (and for free), has to be amongst the trees and bushes of the small islands at the southern end of Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham, London.

 

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894) was the natural history artist and sculptor, whose partnership with Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) produced the dinosaur reconstructions that you can see today in the park.

 

Hawkins was born in London and was an established artist displaying his work between 1832-1849 in prominent institutions such as the Royal Academy. His skill was demonstrated in the plates for publications such as 'Illustrations of Indian Zoology' (1830-35) and 'The Zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle' (parts 4/5, 1838-43).

 

 

 

 

 

Pre historic creatures NHMPL 046678.jpg

It was his collaboration with Richard Owen, first Director of the Natural History Museum, London and distinguished vertebrate palaeontologist, that is arguably his best known legacy. He was appointed by the Crystal Palace Company to create thirty three life sized concrete models of extinct animals and dinosaurs (funding cuts meant only around half were produced). These were to be part of a geological time zone in part of the park, which housed the relocated great glass exhibition hall.

 

Owen estimated the size and overall shape of the animals, but left Hawkins to sculpt the models, under his direct supervision. Together they produced the first public display of life sized reconstructions of prehistoric life. They are a representation of the scientific knowledge of that time, unveiled to the world in 1854, five years before Charles Darwin published 'On the origin of species'.

 

To celebrate the near completion of the project Hawkins held a dinner party for Richard Owen and twenty distinguished scientists of the time. Dinner was held in the partially finished mould of the largest sculpture, the Iguanodon.

 

Icthyosaurus & Plesiosaurus NHMPL 011937.jpgPlesiosaurus NHMPL 046677.jpg

 

The NHM Library & Archives hold a collection of original Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins material, including watercolour and pen and ink sketches, showing his thoughts and designs for his geological creations. Also included is an invitation and menu from the unique New Years Eve party. In the Museum's scientific collections are a handful of surviving minature versions of the models that Hawkins produced prior to embarking on the final full sized ones.

 

Hawkins went on to live a life of many highs and lows, including a number of years working and lecturing in America. He returned to England in 1879 where he remained until his death in Putney on 27th January 1894.

 

Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire in 1936 and the models are his unique (and slightly haunting) legacy to London and a must see for all!

 

Further reading:

 

Bramwell, Valerie (2008) All in the bones: a biography of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Iguanodon Model NHMPL 004699.jpgCrystal Palace Dinosaurs NHMPL 043503.jpg

0

 

This week we have 36 new book additions covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. Download the PDF attached to the bottom of this blog to view this week's list.


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

0

This week we have 36 new book additions covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. Download the PDF attached to the bottom of this blog to view this week's list.


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

0

Written by Lisa Di Tommaso (Special Collections Librarian)

 

Aedes-cantans-mosquito_021862_IA.jpg

 

 

 

 

In usual circumstances, most people would be reluctant to describe a blood-sucking fly as beautiful, but when drawn by the Italian illustrator, Amedeo John Engel Terzi, it becomes a surprisingly appropriate term.

 

Terzi was born in 1872 in Palermo in southern Italy. Both his father and brother worked as artists and Terzi soon followed in their footsteps.  In 1900, Terzi joined a field trip to Ostia in the Roman Campagna, led by two tropical disease researchers, Louis Sambon and George Carmichael Low, conducting experiments exploring the relationship between mosquitoes and malaria. Although principally engaged to be the official artist for the expedition, Terzi also joined in the actual experiments, becoming a human guinea pig. Somewhat miraculously, the three men did not contract malaria themselves but many who worked in the open in the same area did, helping to prove the theory that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes.

 

 

 

Tabanus-autumnalis-horse-fly_015342_IA.jpg

 

Terzi travelled to England not long after this field trip, and after a short stint at the London School of Tropical Medicine, he joined the staff at the Natural History Museum where he worked, apart for a short time during the Second World War, for the rest of his working life.

 

Throughout his tenure at the Museum, Terzi executed a multitude of illustrations, mostly of parasitic insects, including a variety of Diptera (insects with a single pair of wings such as flies and mosquitoes), beetles and weevils. Terzi himself estimated that he completed 37,000 drawings in the course of his career which were published in 55 books and more than 500 other publications.

 

 

 

 

Stomoxys-calcitrans-stable-fly_015346_IA.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

One of Terzi’s greatest artistic achievements was his depiction of British blood-sucking flies. Large-scale watercolours, these were originally intended to be displayed in the Museum galleries, but they were considered to be of such exceptional quality that they were instead used as plates in Edward E. Austen's Illustrations of British Blood-Sucking Flies (1906). The NHM Library & Archives hold 58 of these drawings in its collections, which were produced over a 30 year period. We also hold many other drawings, sketches and watercolours drawn by Terzi as well as some notes and correspondence.

 

 

 

 

He was well respected by his colleagues and students of entomology for his accurate and detailed illustrations, and remains so today. A new species Culex terzii was named for Terzi after he recognised it as being different to other similar species. He died in 1956 at the age of 84, leaving an important and lasting legacy to the science of entomology and research into the transmission of disease.Rhynchophorus-ferrugineus-coconut-palm-weevil_022735_IA.jpg

Sirex-gigas-giant-wood-wasp_006554_IA.jpg

0

Migrating an old card catalogue from hard copy to digital form is a complex task. When we made the switch in 1998, tens of thousands of items made it across – but thanks to our recent stock audit, we’ve turned up a few treasures that didn’t. Although these items still exist in the card catalogue and on the shelf, they may not have been recorded electronically. With such a vast and rich collection, an extra copy or two might escape notice. For this reason, we close annually to audit our stock.

 

 

Due to the size of the Library collection, we choose a section each year to audit. Recently, we’ve been focused on ensuring our Special Collections are all present and correct. For most staff, this involves printing a list of what the catalogue says we have on the shelf, and manually comparing it to what is on the shelf. If books are on the shelf but not the catalogue, they need to be added – usually, from scratch.

 

 

The Cataloguing Team spent our recent audit (November 2013) rediscovering and cataloguing some pretty interesting stuff – so we thought we’d share them with you. We don’t always know a lot about them though, so the pictures may have to speak for themselves!

 

 

 

A labour of love this year involved unravelling our catalogue entries for Archetypa Studiaque Patris (Hoefnagel, 1592). We hold three copies, all with different plates bound in different orders, inside different bindings, with different histories. One copy of the three is coloured. In its coloured form, this title is exceptionally rare. We can’t be sure our copy was coloured at the time of publication, but we hope so – for artwork 420 years old, the colours are still fantastic.     Archetypa-Studiaque-Patris-(1592)-frog.jpg  

  Archetypa-Studiaque-Patris-(1592)-mouse-.jpg

 

Our audit is also a good chance to monitor our collections for items which may need some level of conservation -- this set is a prime example (image below). Chemicals used in the tanning process of this binding have become acidic over time, turning the leather flaky and brittle. Using the books n this state will damage them further, while leaving them on the shelf might lead to their neighbours (and librarians!) getting discoloured as well. So, off to the conservation studio...

 

Conservation-cropped.jpg

Removing-the-sellotape-and-rusty-pin.jpg

Keep-this-pin!.jpg

 

More unusual was finding “an old pin with the twisted wire head” taped into a page, and a retention request! Adhesive tape and rusty pins aren’t good for books, so they’re both being removed by our paper conservator. The pin will be kept, but in a small pocket or envelope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some other new favourites included…

 

The Dry Fly Man’s Handbook (Halford, 1897). We hold the original manuscript, but you’ll have to be the judge of whether the manuscript is more or less fascinating than Volume 2 – with real fishing flies!

Our-manuscript-copy-of-The-Dry-Fly-Man's-Handbook.jpg  Real-fishing-flies-from-The-Dry-Fly-Man's-Handbook.jpg

 

A Victorian tale of murder and mayhem unfolds in Nemesis among the beetles (Gould, Britton Jr., c.1875)…

 

Nemesis-Among-the-Beetles.jpg  A-drama-unfolds-in-Nemesis-Among-the-Beetles.jpg

 

A 20th century scrapbook of the author’s (Richard T. Lewis) published and original artwork, mounted side by side:

 

And last but not least, 5 binders full of a stamp collection focused on butterflies and moths (complete with negatives). 

 

I wonder what we’ll rediscover next year? We shall keep you posted.

Original-and-published-drawings-together-in-the-artist's-own-scrapbook.jpg

    Negatives-of-photographs-of-stamps-of-butterflies.jpg

0

This week we have 39 new additions covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. Download the PDF attached to the bottom of this blog to view this week's list.


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

0

Hellen Pethers: Reader Services Librarian

 

 

Hellen-Pethers-blog.jpg

 

 

 

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

8 1/2 years, wow that went fast!

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

I graduated from Brighton University (Library and Information Studies BA Hons) in 2000 and began my professional career at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, by starting as a Library Assistant and progressing to Librarian. I joined the NHM in 2005, so now I've spent 13 years working in the Museum Library environment and love it! I've been fortunate enough to work in two fantastic large museums, in two incredible buildings and with internationally renowned collections. I count myself very lucky!

 

What does your average day look like?


I'm responsible for the day to day management of our Public Reading Room and my office is next to the main enquiry desk. With so many different people making appointments to visit us and contacting us via phone and email, no day is the same nor predictable. I love meeting new people, learning about their research and exchanging a shared love of the natural world.

 

 

 

 

 

We have collections in over 100 locations all over the Museum's South Kensington site and elsewhere, so fetching the material requested by visitors ready for their visit is a constant activity. I manage the Library & Archives blog and Twitter @NHM_Library, and encourage my colleagues to contribute to regular entries such as Item of the Month and behind the scenes project updates. I really enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for our collections and I get the chance to take part in Nature Live talks within the Museum. These have been on William Smith's geological map and on printed zoological ephemera relating to menageries and other oddities.

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

In 8 years I've become rather fond of numerous items in the collections, in particular printed ephemera relating to the weird and wonderful world of menageries and animal shows. But if I really had to pick one, it would be William Hamilton's Campi Phlegrei (1779), because it makes me chuckle thinking about the first time I learnt about it. When I started at the NHM I worked as Assistant Librarian in the Earth Sciences Library, I had just spent the previous 5 years being immersed in the world of Admiral Nelson. So I was almost relieved to start my new job, surrounded by fossils and minerals, seemingly a world away from Horatio! Only to find that in my first week, I was introduced to this wonderful book depicting the different stages of activity of Mount Vesuvius, and only to find that the author William Hamilton was the husband of Admiral Horatio Nelson's mistress Emma! Turns out I can run, but I can't hide!

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

On a beautiful sunny summer's day I love our Wildlife Garden, a little gem in central London. You can sit surrounded by nature, whilst still being aware of the hustle and bustle of London traffic around you. But nothing beats standing by the giant sequoia at the top of the museum, first thing in the morning, as the sun shines through the stained glass windows, across the empty floor of the central hall before the doors open and our visitors fill the building.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


Since working at the NHM I've fallen in love with many animals I didn't even know existed, but I think I would be a dolphin. Family means everything to me, as far as I can see dolphins always look like they are having fun and stick together as a unit, so that's good enough for me!

0

This week we have 44 new additions covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. Download the PDF attached to the bottom of this blog to view this week's list.


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website