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39 Posts tagged with the library_item_of_the_month tag
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Bartram - Sarracenia flava, yellow pitcher plant & Sarracenia purpurea, pitcher plant NHMPL 015930.jpg

 

By Judith Magee, Special Collections Curator

 

William Bartram (1739-1823) was the son of the Quaker farmer and nurseryman John Bartram (1699-1777), who established a botanical garden at his home in Kingsessing, some four miles from Philadelphia. For many years John traded packets of seed of American plants to customers all over Europe and was responsible for introducing up to a third of North American plants to Europe during his lifetime. William, like his father, became an excellent botanist and plant collector. He was also a very skilled artist and many of Bartram’s drawings portray the plants and animals in context, showing the inter-relationship and dependency between species and the habitat in which they lived; a depiction quite different from that of most natural history artists of the day.

 

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Between the years 1773 –1777 William travelled through the Carolinas, Georgia and East and West Florida as far as the Mississippi River. He collected plants and seed, wrote a journal and completed drawings for his patron John Fothergill (1712-1780), a London physician. On his return to Philadelphia Bartram wrote his now famous work Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, published in 1791. The importance of this work is manifold, not least the influence it had on the Romantic poets of Europe. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth are just two of the many poets who were influenced by Bartram’s book. The poetic imagery evoked in his writings and his rhapsodic language found its way into many well-known poems. Bartram viewed the earth as an organic whole, a living unity of diverse and interdependent life forms and it was this understanding of nature that also made him so attractive to the Romantic poets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bartram was also a significant influence in shaping science in America in the post-revolutionary era. The process of nation building and eradicating American dependence on Europe was reflected in the struggle for an American cultural and scientific identity. The study of naturBartram -Eastern diamondback rattlesnake NHMPL 015960.jpgal science was seen as a patriotic act in which Americans themselves were discovering their natural products, identifying, classifying, describing and naming these species, in short stamping American control over their subject. William Bartram was very conscious of this and during his lifetime gave inspiration and encouragement to a long list of young American scientists.

 

 

Today Bartram’s Travels remains in print and continues to be read by practitioners of all disciplines of natural history and the arts. A large portion of his book is devoted to describing the lifestyle and culture of the Native Americans of the region that he travelled through. His writings are amongst the very few that give first-hand knowledge of the subject. His own experiences during his travels led him to develop a great admiration of the Creek and Cherokee Nations lifestyle and particularly their relationship with nature.

 

 

The Bartram collection is made up of 68 drawings most of which were sent to John Fothergill between 1772 and 1776. Fothergill’s library, including all his artwork, was auctioned after his death in 1780. A number of lots were purchased by Sir Joseph Banks including the Bartram material and were given the Banks Mss. number of 23.

 

Further reading:

 

Magee, Judith (2007) The art and science of William Bartram, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press in association with the Natural History Museum.

Bartram - Butorides virescens, green heron NHMPL 015917.jpgBartram - Dendroica magnolia (Wilson), magnolia warbler NHMPL 015964.jpg

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Sopwith.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

By Lisa Di Tommaso

(Special Collections Librarian)

 

Thomas Sopwith (1803 – 1879) was an influential figure in the world of geology throughout the 19th century. Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to a family of cabinet-makers, Sopwith learnt the trade as an apprentice to his father, winning an award at the 1851 Great Exhibition after designing a desk where all drawers could be secured using one single lock. He discovered a natural talent for drawing and planning, and developed a keen interest in mineral collecting.

 

Largely self-taught, Sopwith kept a diary and notes about his life from the age of 19 until his death, which leaves us with a great insight into his career and achievements. He became a land and mineral surveyor, and later a civil engineer - his work requiring him to determine mining boundaries, undertake mapping for land-owners, and survey for new railways in Britain and abroad. He is credited for convincing the government of the day to establish the Mining Records Office, strongly advocating the importance of preserving mining records.

 

 

 

 

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Sopwith published a number of papers and treatises in relation to mining, geology and isometric (3-dimensional) drawing, often using his own engravings, which he taught himself to do. Throughout his career he collaborated with, among others, William Smith, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Adam Sedgwick, Michael Faraday, Roderick Murchison, Charles Lyell and Henry De La Beche. He also worked with George and Robert Stephenson on developing railways in France and Belgium.

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Having made a number of large-scale wooden geological models designed to demonstrate the positions of veins of coals and iron-ore workings in various locations, Sopwith identified a need to create smaller versions to use for educational purposes and to aid those in the mining industry to understand common structures in the field or underground. Ranging in size from 3 inches to 4 inches square, the models were released in sets of six or twelve in a specially made case designed to resemble a book. The models were accompanied by a detailed explanatory text. The price varied from £2 to £5 depending on the number and size of the models purchased. First produced in 1841, the models were re-released in 1875. The Natural History Museum Library holds a set of twelve models which had been presented to the eminent geologist Professor William Buckland by Sopwith in gratitude for his continuing support.

 

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(Above left) Model IV - Model to Show Fallacious Appearances. This depicts the scenario where from the surface an abundance of coal appears to exist, but there is actually very little quantity below.

 

(Above right) Model VShowing Dislocations of Coal Strata. This example indicates that while very little may appear at ground level, coal seams (subject to faults and dislocations) can be found below the ground.

 

The generic models weren’t representative of specific locations; they were depicting examples of strata containing faults or dislocations and showing inclines, helping to predict locations of coal seams and lead deposits in the faults and to explain the nature of certain geological features. They represented various and potential geological phenomena in relation to mining – those aspects which were difficult to explain in words or represent in drawings. Each of the models shows the topographic surface of the ground, and then depicts layers, inclines, folds, faults and strata beneath. Some can be moved about to show different variations in a fault, and in some cases at least six different drawings would be needed to show the same scenario without a 3D model. They highlight the difficulty of seeing from ground level what may or may not be below, and they proved to be of invaluable assistance.

 

In his lifetime Sopwith belonged to no less than twenty-six learned societies and advocated many social causes such as universal suffrage and the entry of working class Members of Parliament to the House of Commons. He died in London in 1879, leaving a lasting legacy and contribution to the mining industry in Britain and geology more generally.

 

Further reading:

Sopwith, Robert. (1994) Thomas Sopwith surveyor: An exercise in self-help, Edinburgh: The Pentland Press

Richardson, Benjamin W. (1891) Thomas Sopwith, London: Longmans, Green & Co

 

(Below left) Model IX Model of Undercut Strata. Showing how strata can be inclined at a steeper angle to the horizon than the surface of the ground.

(Below right) Model VI Model Showing the Intersection of Mineral Veins. Depicting a succession of veins formed by various dislocations of the strata.

 

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It seems extraordinary now, but if you had entered a lottery in 1786, you might have won a whole museum. The tickets were priced at one guinea each, and the museum up for grabs was that of Sir Ashton Lever, collector of natural history and ethnographical specimens.

 

The museum was based in Leicester Square, London, and contained approximately 27,000 items. Leicester House, a large mansion, cost Lever £600 a year to lease, and when it opened in February 1775 he charged visitors half a guinea to enter, a large sum at the time. Despite the cost, the Leverian Museum proved popular. Those who visited found sixteen rooms of specimens interspersed with corridors lined with cases containing even more items. One room was separate and was billed as containing “very curious monkies and monsters”; ladies were warned that they may not have wished to enter for fear of being disgusted. As well as the specimens, there was a library containing books on natural history. Interestingly, advertisements at the time specify that good fires were to be found in the galleries – not something that one would expect to find in museums now!

 

 

 

 

As well as the general public, artists and natural historians of the time came to draw and study the exhibitions. Lever added to the collections frequently, stocking the cases with zoological and ethnographical items brought back from expeditions such as those of Captain Cook, from exotic locations such as the Americas, Africa and the Far East.

 

 

[Image above] – “Bird display. A perspective view of the grand saloon and gallery [of the Leverian Museum] from A Companion to the [British] Museum (1790) by Sir Ashton Lever.” NHM Picture Library Ref 036756

 

 

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Sarah Stone (ca.1760-1844), the daughter of a fan painter, began painting at the museum in the late 1770s. Her baptism certificate has not been found, so the precise date of her birth is unknown.  She came to the attention of Lever and was commissioned by him to formally record specimens. Her artwork is considered of great importance as it gives some idea of the species collected by explorers and of the long-since demolished museum. Some of the animals she painted are now extinct, or have endangered populations.

 

The Library at the Natural History Museum has a large collection of Stone’s watercolours. Many of the known paintings and drawings in existence (over 900 in total) are of birds, such as the image above of a mandarin duck, Aix galericulata.

 

Stone’s use of colour and shadow, delicate brushwork and faithful representation of her subjects made her work distinctive and admirable at the time. Although these qualities are still prized, some of her drawings can look ‘stiff’ to modern eyes. In particular, the sloth on the left in the picture below looks incapable of climbing its branch. However, this may also be the fault of the taxidermy techniques of the period.

 

[Image on right]   “Mandarin duck, Aix galericulata. Sarah Stone, 1788.” NHM Picture Library Ref 024290

 

 

 

 

So who did win the museum? For five weeks after the lottery, no-one knew. Finally James Parkinson, a barrister, came forward to claim his winnings. The chosen ticket had belonged to his late wife and he had only come across it when sorting through her estate.

 

He owned the museum for twenty years, though kept the ‘Leverian’ name, and oversaw a move to a different site in Albion Place, south of Blackfriars Bridge. Most of Stone’s drawings are dated to before Parkinson took over the museum. In 1806, the collections were broken up and sold at auctions lasting for sixty five days (excluding Sundays and the King’s birthday). Interestingly, two of the lots were Stone’s own watercolours of the specimens.

 

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) webpage hosts some books which contain paintings by Sarah Stone. Some examples are here:

http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/29568342

http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/29568322

 

 

You can also see more of Sarah Stone’s artwork in the forthcoming Images of Nature Gallery exhibition on women artists, which will be on display the Museum from March 2014 and is accompanied by a book by Special Collections Librarian Andrea Hart. Keep a look out for forthcoming blogs providing more information about the new exhibition next month and then throughout 2014/2015.

 

 

Bibliography:

Jackson, C.E. (1998). Sarah Stone: Natural Curiosities from the New Worlds. London: Merrell Publishers Ltd.

 

[Image below] – “Pale-throated three-toed sloth, Bradypus tridactylus. Sarah Stone, c. 1781-1785.” NHM Picture Library Ref 024334

 

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Tyrannosaurus rex NHMPL 002915.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Although Neave Parker (1910-1961) had artistic ambitions from an early age, he was dissuaded from pursuing them by his father and was not allowed to attend art school. Instead, he took up employment in a bank but after just one disasterous week, he was firmly but kindly advised to seek another profession.

 

After working as a surveyor for a short while he then went on to serve in the Royal Air Force during World War II, working in the Photographic Unit. It was not until Parker was discharged that he finally was able to pursue art as a career. After making the acquaintance of Maurice Burton (1898-1992), a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum, London and also Honorary Science Editor at the Illustrated London News, he began a collaboration with Burton to produce animal illustrations for a non-technical audience. The first of his drawings of prehistoric animals appeared in the Illustrated London News on 30 September, 1950.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burton then introduced him to Dr William Elgin Swinton (1900-1994), a palaeontologist at the Museum, and it was through this collaboration that Parker completed numerous dinosaur illustrations. These featured in a range of publications including The Dinosaurs (1970) and Dinosaurs: their discovery and their world (1961). He was also commissioned by the Museum to produce a series of reconstructions which were sold as postcards.

 

Pterodactyl NHMPL 0029147.jpgHypsilophodon NHMPL 004087.jpg

 

Protoceratops NHMPL 004093.jpg

 

Parker pioneered the art of restoring entire palaeo-environments of dinosaurs and was highly regarded by his scientific associates at the Museum. His drawings in monochrome gouache and wash drawings became trademarks of his distinctive style, which vividly represented the formerly held opinions of how such creatures appeared.

 

Parker's other passions in life was food, beer, pistol shooting (he was a British Open Champion), photography and films. It was in a cinema that he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1961.

 

Learn more about our art collections and see some great examples via our Library & Archives pages.

 

Further reading:

 

Debus, Allen A. (1987) 'Neave Parker: vertebrate palaeontology's masterful necromancer', The Earth Science News, vol. 38, No. 11 pp.21-24

Debus, Allen A. and Debus, Diane E. (2002) Paleoimagery: the evolution of dinosaurs in art, Jefferson N. C.:McFarland & Co., Publishers

 

Paracyclotosaurus NHMPL 004091.jpgCetiosaurus NHMPL 002917.jpg

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Written by Lisa Di Tommaso (Special Collections Librarian)

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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

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Maria-Sibylla-Merian_004886.jpg

 

As a pioneer in the field of depicting symbiotic relationships, Maria Sibylla Merian is credited with inspiring such key entomological texts as De Nederlandsche Insecten (Sepp & Sepp, 1762) & British Entomology (Curtis, 1823-1840). Even today, her work is valued not just for its aesthetic appeal but also for the accuracy of its scientific content.

 

Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1647, Maria was the daughter of a Matthaeus Merian the Elder, a very well-known etcher, and Johanna Catharina Heim. After Matthaeus died in 1650, Johanna remarried. As a pupil of Georg Flegel (1566-1638), and a celebrated botanical artist in his own right, Maria’s stepfather Jacob Marrell (1614-1681) was to play a key part in the encouragement and development of Maria’s artistic talent. By the age of 11, Maria had learnt the art of copper engraving from her stepfather; by the age of 13 she was keeping a journal of her efforts rearing silkworms, including notes on metamorphosis. Both interests went on to shape her life.

 

Married at 18 years of age to the artist Johan Andreas Graff (1637-1701), Maria gave birth to her eldest daughter (Johanna Helena) in Frankfurt Am Main in 1668. After relocating in 1670 to Nuremburg, the couples’ second daughter (Dorothea Maria) was born in 1678.

 

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Before, between, and after the birth of her daughters Maria continued developing her artistic talents. Using her own preparations of paints and dyes on vellum, paper, and linen, Maria produced a number of still life works but also shared her knowledge by teaching local girls flower painting and embroidery. Indeed, Maria’s first published work Neues Blumenbuch (1675-1680) was issued in parts intended as a pattern book for such pursuits.

 

In 1679, the first part of Maria’s Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen-nahrung was published. The work focused on insect metamorphosis, drawn from first-hand observations of life cycles and food plants, rather than drawings of dried specimens (as was usual at the time). Jan Goedaert (1617–1668) was known as a painter of insects (including their life cycle); Botanical artists such as Georg Flegel and Balthasar ven der Ast had included insects in their paintings. However, linking insects to the specific plants they lived and fed on was quite a new approach.

 

Referred to by Maria as her “caterpillar books”, Der Raupen also served to demonstrate Maria’s refinement of making counterproofs, or transfer prints. Most illustrations produced via the engraving process are a mirror image of the original illustration – Maria added an extra step to the process, pressing a fresh sheet of paper against the still-wet print from a copperplate. This removed any physical impression of the copperplate from the finished product, instead leaving an outline for the final painting. Radically for an author of the time, Merian often coloured the engravings herself. 

 

A major change in Maria’s life came in 1681, with the death of her stepfather Jacob Marrell.  Returning to her mother’s home in Frankfurt Am Main, Maria went on to publish a second part of Der Raupen in 1683, which was issued with an additional 50 plates and accompanying text.

 

Maria’s life took another unexpected turn in 1685, when she entered the religious Labadist commune in Wieuwerd, Friesland, of which her brother Caspar was already a member. Her mother and daughters joined her in the move; her husband did not. Hosted in Castle Waltha, tropical insects and plants in the commune’s natural history collections caught Maria’s interest. Maria and her daughters moved to Amsterdam in 1691 after the deaths of her brother and mother (1686 and 1690 respectively). In their new home, all three became well known as natural history painters.

 

In 1699, Maria took the life-changing decision to travel to Surinam. Funded by selling off her artwork and natural history collections, Maria was accompanied by her daughter Dorothea rather than a male companion. Although Surinam was a Dutch territory at the time, for a woman to travel unescorted in this way was quite controversial. Maria made the concession of drafting her will, but proceeded with her journey nonetheless.

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2 months of sailing later, Maria and Dorothea arrived in Surinam. Despite the ridicule of local Dutch sugar planters, the two women collected, reared, and painted the insects and plants of urban and jungle areas. After a serious illness (perhaps Yellow Fever), Maria returned to Amsterdam in 1701 with an extensive collection of plants, insects, and artwork. All three formed the basis of her highly acclaimed work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, first published in Amsterdam in 1705. The publication in Latin and Dutch was funded in part by Maria’s commissioned art and engraving work.

 

Many editions were coloured by Maria’s equally talented daughters, but although Metamorphosis used Maria’s original watercolours for all the illustrations, only three of the engravings made were her own. Many of the insects and plants depicted in the work were new or little known to scientists, with plants such as pineapples, prickly custard-apples, frangipani, pomegranates, bananas, watermelons, guavas, and cashews all making an appearance. Plants depicted were both wild and cultured, due to having been chosen for their relationship with the insects they hosted.

 

A good indicator of the esteem in which Maria’s work was held might be considered the 1711 purchase by James Petiver of some of her artwork, on behalf of Sir Hans Sloane, and the 1717 purchase of her original drawings by Czar Peter the Great. Later, although not impressed with the cost of her works, Carl Linnaeus still cited her illustrations for several plant species and over 100 animal species. Since that time, At least 6 plants, 9 butterflies, 2 bugs, 1 spider, and 1 lizard have named in Maria’s honour.

 

Unfortunately Maria suffered a stroke in 1715, and was unable to continue her work. In 1717, at the age of 70, she died in Amsterdam.

 

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Shortly after Maria’s death, a third volume of Der Raupen was published by her daughter Dorothea; this was followed in 1719 by the second edition of Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. The second edition of Metamorphosis was again published only in Latin and Dutch, but included 12 additional plates – 10 by Maria, 2 after the collections of Albert Seba. These plates provoked criticism by the scientific community due to some baffling inaccuracies – one plate suggested that American frogs metamorphosed into tadpoles, as opposed to European tadpoles growing into frogs! Criticisms of Maria’s work also stemmed from her emphasis on biology and observation rather than taxonomy. Although the Linnean system of binomial nomenclature that is used today wasn’t introduced until 1753, taxonomy and taxonomic names were still considered crucial to the scientific process.

 

In all, Metamorphosis appeared in 5 editions. The 3rd and 5th editions (The Hague, 1726 and Paris, 1771) appeared in Latin and French; the 4th edition (Amsterdam, 1730), was a translation in Dutch.

 

Although her interest was primarily in insects, Maria’s realistic and detailed paintings of the plants they live on have ensured her work is valuable is not just to art lovers, but also to scientific community.

 

 

Bibliography.

 

Harvey, J.H.V.                               

Maria Sibylla Merian: The Surinam album (commentary) (London: The Folio Society, 2006).

 

Magee, J.                                    

Art of Nature: Three centuries of natural history art from around the world (London: Natural History Museum, 2009).

 

Ogilvie, M. & Harvey, J.                 

The biographical dictionary of women in science: Volume 2, L-Z (New York & London: Routledge, 2000). Pp.884-885

 

Pieters, F.F.J.M. & Winthagen, D.  

Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and artist (1647-1717): a commemoration on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of her birth. Archives of natural history. (London: Society for the History of Natural History). Vol. 26, part 1 (February, 1999), pp.1-153

 

Stearn, W. T.                                

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) as a botanical artist. Taxon (Utrecht: International Bureau for Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature). Vol. 31, part 3 (August 1982), pp. 529-534.

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Basil Harrington Soulsby was born near Christchurch, New Zealand on 3rd November 1864. After his father’s death he moved to England and was educated at Cheltenham College and at Corpus Christi, Oxford. He also spent some time at Tübingen and Göttingen Universities in Germany before beginning a career as a schoolmaster. In 1892 he changed careers and entered the library service of the British Museum in Bloomsbury as an Assistant in the Department of Printed Books. He progressed to taking charge of the Map Room, and later of the Copyright Office.  He was also Deputy Superintendent of the Reading Room for a time.

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He transferred to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington in 1909 and from 1921 he was appointed Assistant in charge of the General Library. His main task was to continue Woodward’s Catalogue of the Natural History Library in five volumes, and one supplementary volume. At the time of his death he had almost completed the second supplementary volume. Soulsby was an active member of the Library Association and in 1902 he held the position of Honorary Secretary of the Library Association. He was also a member of the Hakluyt Society and contributed translations, introductions, bibliographies and indices to many of the Hakluyt Society’s books. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society on 24th May 1930, recommended by S.F. Harmer, (President of the Linnean Society), J. Ramsbottom, Botanical Secretary, Linnean Society and Lionel Walter Rothschild.



Basil was determined to improve the collection of Linnaeus’s works within the NHM, and spent many of his holidays touring Sweden and Germany looking at Linnean collections and acquiring material for the NHM library collection. He spent a thousand pounds of his own money on books written by Linnaeus, his students, and contemporaries. He also obtained a number of theses or dissertations produced by students of Linnaeus at Uppsala University. His friendship with Dr. J. M. Hulth, the Chief Librarian of the Royal University Library at Uppsala University, gave him unrestricted access to the Linnean collection at Uppsala University. By the time he retired he could claim that the Linnean Collection at the NHM was the “next best in the world” to that of Uppsala University in Sweden. He retired in 1930 but was asked to produce a revised second edition of A Catalogue of the Works of Linnaeus (and publications more immediately relating thereto) preserved in the libraries of the British Museum(Natural History) (South Kensington) published in London by the British Museum in 1933.



The first edition of the Catalogue prepared for the Linnaeus Bicentenary in 1907 consisted of 580 entries on 27 pages. The second edition contains nearly 4,000 entries over 300 pages and included an introduction, bibliographical notes and an index. Sadly he died on 14th January 1933, just before publication of his great work which was acknowledged as the most “complete review of the writings of or on Linnaeus which exists”.  At the time of his death he was checking the final proofs of this great work. Little is known of his personal life but he was described by Swedish colleagues as a “man of amiable disposition and pawky humour”.

 

 

 

Bibliography



 

A Catalogue of the Works of Linnaeus (and publications more immediately relating thereto) preserved in the libraries of the British Museum(Natural History) (South Kensington), London, British Museum, 1933.



 

London Gazette 14th April 1933



 

Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London no 145, 1934.



 

Svenska Dagbladet, 25th January 1933. Mr Basil Soulsby passes away.

 

 

Written by Diane Tough (Former Head of Cataloguing, NHM Library & Archives)

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Missionary Needlework etc.  Collected by the Rev. G. E. Smith (1805-1881)]

by Sarah Vincent (Electronic Resources Librarian)

 

Recently unearthed from the collections by a slightly bemused librarian, Missionary Needlework etc., illustrates the importance of not judging a book by its cover, or indeed its title. There is a singular lack of needlepoint contained within the marbled covers of this 18th century scrapbook; it has instead been repurposed to hold a lovingly compiled collection of natural history drawings, cuttings, notes and photographs collected by the Reverend Gerard Edward Smith.

 

Smith was born in Camberwell in 1805. He studied at Oxford and, after being ordained in 1829, became Vicar of Sellinge, Kent. After marrying Isabella March Clark in 1935, Reverend Smith moved  to the North of England and spent the next 40-ish years as the Vicar of Cantley, Ashton Hayes and Osmaston, respectively, before retiring to Ockbrock.

 

Throughout his career, Smith enthusiastically pursued a side-line interest in the study of the natural world. He was a keen amateur botanist and, alongside his wife, spent time collecting, drawing and painting examples of local flora. He even found time to author several books on British botany, which are also held in the NHM Library.

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Smith’s interest in the world around him did not end with plants, as demonstrated by Missionary Needlework, etc., which is a highly personal scrapbook composed of a brilliantly diverse and eclectic range of zoological articles, paintings, prints and illustrations (many of which were apparently drawn by Smith himself). These items have been meticulously pasted in place and arranged systematically in rough order of biological complexity. It begins with a rather charming human skeleton and finishes with some less charming parasitic worms, taking in such marvels as creepily smug dolphins and beautifully painted beetles along the way.

 

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We received Missionary Needlework etc., as a donation from Aimee Clark in 1933. Aimee’s aunt, May Senior Clark, was presumably a relative of Isabella’s  and received Smith’s natural history collections following his death in 1881. From Aimee’s introductory letter, we can gain some insight into Smith’s character: apparently he was very popular with younger members of the family and was regarded as ‘a real playfellow’.
This description is backed up by one of the most charming items contained in the scrapbook, an inserted miniature pamphlet about bats, which was illustrated and written by a 21-year old Smith and dedicated to ‘the amusement of my little friends’.

 

 

 

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This pamphlet covers a range of fascinating bat-themed topics and provides valuable advice to those travelling in areas inhabited by the vampire flitter mouse, namely to sleep with your feet covered up in order to avoid being bitten and ‘passing from a state of sound sleep to that of death’.

 

Fittingly, the pamphlet closes with a poetic description of the incident that inspired its creation, a home invasion by a rather confused long-eared bat: 


‘Prithee look dear Papa! What a wonder is here!
A winged little mouse, it would seem, I declare!
Where the door was wide opened, I saw it fly in,
So quite certain I am that it flits thro’ the air!’

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Drawings collection of Olivia Frances Tonge (1858-1949)

 

by Lisa Atalla, Information Assistant

 

Olivia Fanny Tonge (nee Fitzmaurice) was born in Glamorganshire in 1858. Her Father, Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice (b.1816, London), a mate and assistant surveyor on the H.M.S Beagle under John Lort Stokes was a keen naturalist and painter who specialised in watercolour landscapes. Many of his watercolours were used to illustrate Captain Lort Stokes’ book ‘Discovery in Australia… Voyage of H.M.S Beagle 1837-43’ (London, 1846).

 

 

NHM Image number: 043082

 

 

 

It was from her father that Olivia’s interest in travel and love of nature probably stemmed- although, it has been said he did not have much confidence in her as a painter, being unaware that her inability to draw landscapes was due to being short sighted rather than lack of talent. As a consequence, Olivia’s watercolours were small scale, focussing on flowers, bird and reptiles- things that she could see in detail close up.

 

 

 

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At the age of 19, Olivia married Dinely Fowler Tonge, with whom she had two daughters- Blanche and Ermin. At this point she gave up painting, spending time on other creative pursuits. This included writing articles for her friend the Reverend J. G. Wood’s publication ‘The Animal World’ and books such as ‘Petland Revisited’ as well as woodcarving, metalwork, singing, dress design and embroidery.


After her husband died, Olivia had to earn money to support her daughters, and became the needle work editor of ‘Hearth and Home’ for many years. She didn't begin painting again until her eldest daughter began to paint landscapes and portraits.

 

NHM Image number: 043080

 

 

 

In 1908, at the age of 50, Olivia embarked on the first of her two trips to India alone. In the preface to her sketchbooks a passage entitled ’Curious Fragment’ shows the determination and independence this would have required .Tonge3.jpg

 

 

“And it came to pass that a certain Grandmother, when that she had come to nigh on two score years and ten; and had gotten long in the tooth, spake to herself thus.- Lo, will I now paint… and verily no man mote stop her”


The 16 sketch books, donated to the Natural History Museum Library in 1952 each contain around 30 pages of annotated watercolours made in Sindh, Calcutta, Darjeeling, Mussoorie, Luknow, Karsiyang, Karachi and various other places across India and Pakistan- spanning both of Olivia’s trips in 1908-1910 and 1912-1913.

 

NHM Image number: 043090

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unusually, Olivia included cultural elements to her drawings, including people, local jewellery, toys, methods of transport (including working animals) and even local sweets.

 

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The pages were crowded with annotations and intertwining paintings of differing subjects. She depicted local people alongside the local flora and fauna, perhaps showing how the culture of the area is influenced by the natural world around them - and certainly making nature and science more accessible to the non-scientific community at home, who had an interest in the exotic.


Olivia’s annotations were charming and personal- not at all scientific, such as- “ A Mussoorie Black Crested Myna, a very friendly bird with a beautiful song”. The colours she used reflected the vibrancy and richness of the country she travelled in and the experience she was documenting.

 

 

 

NHM Image number: 021874

 

In 1913, on her return from India, Olivia again stopped painting- instead, taking up gardening.  She died in Lincoln at the age of 90.

 

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NHM Image number: 0430797

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Mark Catesby was born in Essex in 1683, the son of John Catesby, a lawyer and a gentleman farmer. Catesby developed an interest in natural history after meeting naturalist John Ray. The Catesby family were of medium wealth and the inheritance Mark received upon the death of his father allowed him to pursue his love for natural history.

 

 

Catesby spent some time studying in London before voyaging to America in 1710 to stay with his sister in Williamsburg, Virginia. During this time he collected botanical specimens and seeds and sent them back to Thomas Fairchild, a nurseryman in Hoxton. This time spent in America advanced Catesby’s knowledge of plants and animals, gained him more experience of collecting and improved his drawing skills.

 

 

 

 

Above: Cancer terrestris Land crab plate 32 from 'Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas', Vol 2 by Mark Catesby NHM Image number: 022694

 

 

Whilst away his profile amongst the science community had grown. Eminent scientists Sir Hans Sloane and Dr William Sherrard had identified Catesby’s potential as a naturalist, even purchasing specimens from him themselves. NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_014700_Comp.JPG

 

 

 

In 1722 Sloane and the Royal Society financed a trip for Catesby to Carolina. Whilst based in Charlestown, he collected plants, birds and shells, sending many back to Sloane in London. At this point Catesby would have regarded himself predominantly as a botanist. However, Sloane’s demands for other specimens increased his knowledge and interest in ornithology.

 

Catesby travelled from Carolina to the eastern coast of North America, taking in Florida and later moving on to the West Indies, returning to England in 1726.

 

Upon his return he was encouraged to publish the illustrations made during his trip. This became a labour of love for Catesby. Despite having financial backing, he still had to oversee the entire production of his book Natural History of Carolina, Florida and Bahamas Islands. He even learnt how to etch copper plates, taking lessons from Joseph Goupy a French painter and engraver who resided in London. Not only did Catesby engrave the plates, he also hand coloured them until he could afford to employ help.

 

 

Left: Title page from The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands (1731-43) Vol. 1 by Mark Catesby. NHM Image number 014700

 

 

 

The Natural History of Carolina was eventually published in three parts; Volume 1 in 1731, Volume 2 in 1743 and finally a Supplement in 1746. The book covered birds, animals, fish, snakes, insects, plants, forest trees and shrubs. His book was the first to use folio-sized plates for natural history subjects. This allowed Catesby to draw many of his birds their actual size.

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Throughout this tome are many wonderful and fascinating drawings. One of particular importance is that of the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius). This bird once lived in huge flocks and it was reported that in 1866 one flock in southern Ontario was one mile wide and three hundred miles long, taking fourteen hours to pass over. It is estimated to have held in excess of 3.5 billion birds. They remained in such enormous numbers until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to the Passenger Pigeon’s eventual extinction. They were hunted for food, for their feathers to make beds and it was also believed the pigeon had medicinal properties. Martha, reportedly the last surviving Passenger Pigeon, died at the Cincinnati zoo in September 1914.

 

Catesby’s book was well received and remained in demand for a long period, primarily because it was the only book on North American natural history at the time. Catesby died in 1749 leaving all his works to his wife, who sold them on for £400. They were purchased by King George III and are now in the Royal Library at Windsor.

 

Above: Ectopistes migratorius, passenger pigeon Plate 23, hand coloured etching from The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands (1731-43) Vol. 1 by Mark Catesby. NHM Image number 014723

 

by Sarah Sworder, Reader Services Information Assistant

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Flora Sinensis, fructus floresque Humillime Porrigens, ... &c. / R. P. Michaele Boym

Matthaeus Rictius, Vienna, 1656.

 

The Flora Sinensis is one of the rarest and earliest European works on the natural history of China. It was published in Vienna in 1656 by the Polish Jesuit missionary Father Michael Piotr Boym (1612-1659), who spent over a decade in China as a successful missionary scientist.

 

Boym first travelled to China in 1643, after the fall of the Ming dynasty and the establishment of the new Qing dynasty, to study, promote Christianity and introduce Chinese science to Europe. However his diplomatic mission to convert the court of the last Chinese ruler of the Ming dynasty to Christianity was seen as a threat to the relations with the Manchus, and in 1651, upon his return to Europe, he was placed under house arrest in Goa. Boym escaped and travelled back to Europe: to Venice, and then Lisbon. In 1656 he returned to China to continue his work, but died three years later in the province of Kuang si.

 

During his travels he corresponded and reported on the various flora, fauna and customs of the numerous countries through which he travelled. An excellent cartographer, Boym also prepared many maps of mainland China and South-East Asia. All of his efforts contributing greatly to Sinology (the study of China and Chinese topics).

 

The Flora Sinensis remains his best known publication. It contains seventeen botanical plates of cultivated fruits of south-eastern China, five zoological plates of animals (including a hippopotamus!) and a plate depicting a Chinese stele (an inscribed monument). For each of the plates Boym gives the names of the species in both Chinese and Latin. He also provides an accurate description of each plant, including their medicinal properties, in the Latin text that accompanies each plate. Originally published uncoloured, hand-coloured copies such as this one are of great rarity.

 

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Lychee (Li-Ci, Lum-yen)

Rhubarb (Rhabarbarum)

Pineapple (Fan-Po-Lo-Mie)

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Pepper (Piper)

Latin text description of Boym's

accompanying Pepper illustration

A stylised leopard

 

 

Boym's published works were influential and frequently cited by other authors who wrote about China, including Athanasius Kircher's 1667 publication titled China monumentis in which similarities in the plates can be seen. It is interesting to note the anthropomorphic (human-like) features that the animal illustrations have been given.

 

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Boym's hippopotamus Kircher's hippopotamus
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Boym's squirrel-type animal chasing a turtleKircher's squirrel-type animal

 

 

 

 

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The NHM Library copy is bound in an old vellum binding which has warped quite significantly overtime due to its age and sensitivity to temperature and humidity. However the quality of the paper remains excellent, considering it is such an old book. That said, the numerous tiny holes scattered over the front and inside board look like they may have made a tasty lunch for an insect at some point .....

 

 

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Le cheval: extérieur: régions, pied, proportions, aplombs, allures, age, aptitudes, robes, tares, vices, vente et achat, examen des oeuvres d'art équestre, etc. Structure et fonctions: situation, rapports, structure anatomique et rôle physiologique de chaque organe. Races: origine, divisions, caractères, production et amélioration : XVI planches coloriées, découpées et superposées [The horse…]

 

Texte par Eugène Alix, dessins d'après nature par Édouard Cuyer [Text by Eugène Alix, drawings from nature by Édouard Cuyer]
Paris: J.B. Baillière,1886.

 

Whilst taking part in a barcoding project in late 2012, I was lucky enough to come across this beautiful and detailed French book. It is in two volumes: the text, and an ‘atlas’ {volume of illustrations}. Although the primary author is listed as Eugéne Alix, the drawings in the atlas were made by Édouard Cuyer. As I was barcoding ‘my’ section – the quarto (larger than a paperback novel, smaller than an atlas of maps) zoological monographs, I had the pleasure of seeing many handsome books, and many more plates and drawings. However, despite a very plain cover, this one stood out, not just because of the especially long title, but also because of what I found inside …a model horse! But it’s definitely designed for adults rather than children: if you’re squeamish, look away now.

 

Although there are a number of technical line drawings of horse physiology in the text, it was the colour illustrations in the atlas that really stood out. There are 16 plates with movable flaps, and a pocket at the back containing a model, movable, jointed paper horse, with templates. These allow the reader to accurately move the horse’s body, head and limbs so that they occupy the positions used when a horse is cantering, galloping, walking and so on. I confess I spent longer than usual barcoding this book – I couldn’t resist having a go…

 

 

Picture 1. Planche VII, Tête [Head]. Fig.1. Squelette de la tête. Face antérieure. Fig. 2. Tête, face latérale [Skeleton of the head . Anterior side, Head, lateral side.] {Eleven flaps}

 

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Picture 2. Planche IX, Tronc et Cavité Thoracique – Face Latéral [Trunk and thoracic cavity – lateral side]. {Nine flaps}

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The plates themselves are astonishingly detailed. For example, one shows all the structures in the neck: by lifting up a series of flaps, one can navigate from the skin of the animal, to the various muscles and tendons, to the blood vessels, and finally the spinal cord – this is shown in the first picture above. In total, we counted eleven flaps on this plate alone. Even the inside of the flaps have been coloured.

 

There are eight templates for the model horse, ranging from Amble to Galop [Gallop]. These have a slit cut into the top edge, so that each may be slid up behind the horse, and the body then positioned according to the template marks. Sadly the horse is missing a hoof (the ‘green’ one!), but we have flagged this up and our paper conservator will be examining the volumes for damage and carrying out repairs in the near future. In the meantime, we have updated the catalogue record to make sure that the illustrations and plates are fully described. In addition, the book has been re-classified taking into account its fragility and interest.

 

Picture 3. Planche V,. Allures du Cheval. La planche VI et ses huit annexes n’ont pas été intercalés dans l’Atlas pour en rendre le maniement plus facile et pour permettre d’exécuter commodément les diverses allures. On les trouvera la poche cartonnage de la couverture. [Horse gaits. Plate VI and eight annexes have not been inserted in the Atlas to make handling easier and to allow various gaits to be performed conveniently. They are found in the cardboard cover pocket.]

 

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Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out much information about the book or its creators. The plates are referenced as being “del (et pinx)” [delineated and painted] by Cuyer, although Imp. [printing imprint] was carried out by Lemercier & Cle Paris. It was published by J.B. Bailliére & Fils [J.B.Balliere and son(s)]. However, we do know that although pop-up books are usually thought of as intended for children, the earliest known books were expensive teaching tools for adults – as this one clearly is.

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One of the many projects that I have undertaken over the years is to digitise a collection of images held in the Library, known as the Portrait Collection.

 

 

This collection of photographs, cuttings and other paper based images has given me years of interesting work, not to mention the countless hours of investigation on getting at least a snipping of information on people that, in some cases, have been lost to us, but were extremely important in their field, in their day.  To me, each person has been a short history lesson.

 

One image that haunts me is the death mask of Richard Parker (1767-1797). Written on the back of the image is "Death mask of Parker of the Nore". My curiosity took hold and I had to look up the history of the Nore.  The Nore is an anchorage in the Thames Estuary, where in 1797 sailors mutinied in protest against living conditions on Royal Naval vessels and demanded a pay rise. 

 

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Richard Parker was elected “President of the Delegates of the Fleet” due to his obvious intelligence, education and empathy with the suffering of sailors.  He was one of 29 men hanged following this mutiny. Before his burial in unconsecrated gound in Sheerness, Kent, John Hunter, the eminent surgeon (and founder of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons) took this cast of his face. 

 

To this day the mask is still held at the Hunterian Museum for more information.

 

The story of Parker’s body continues in that after his burial, his wife, Anne, with the help of 4 other women, exhumed the body with the intent of smuggling the remains to his former home near Exeter.  They stopped en-route at a public house near Tower Hill and crowds gathered to pay their respects.  The Duke of Portland, fearing a public “hero’s” funeral had the body stolen, but word leaked out and the workhouse where the body was hidden was held siege. 

 

 

 

At this point the Home Office succeeded in arranging a secret burial in the grounds of St. Mary Matfelon Church in Whitechapel.  Anne Parker was not privy to the whereabouts of her husband’s final resting place, but later discovered this and was successful in having his remains blessed with the official Christian Ritual.

 

Why is this image in our collection?  I have no idea!

 

by Lorraine Portch, Reprographics Officer, Library & Archives

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Monsters in the Library

 

by Lisa Di Tommaso (Special Collections Librarian)

 

 

Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) was a true Renaissance man who studied law, philosophy, logic and mathematics at the universities of Bologna and Padua. He was one of the great innovators of the study of nature during this period.

 

Ulyssis Aldrvandi- Monstrorum Historia-002-050213 - edit.jpgAldrovandi image 2.jpg

 

Aldrovandi established one of the most acclaimed curiosity cabinets in European history, containing more than 18,000 specimens, according to his written description from 1595. He was a believer in observing the species of study and he was an advocate for accurate illustrations in natural history books. His aim was to accurately identify and describe as large an amount of animals, plants and minerals that was possible and with the advancement of travel, new plant species and animals were being discovered all the time.

 

 

He travelled as much as he could in order that he could observe species for himself. He had his own museum which was a centre of study and research for him and his students. His watercolour and tempera collection totalled 8,000. He would commission artists and hire painters, and he also received many drawings as gifts.

 

 

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Aldrovandi wrote roughly 400 volumes on natural history. Getting the work published was tougher though, and only a handful of his books were printed during his lifetime. One of the few was Monstrorum Historia: cum paralipomenis historiae omnium animalium, 1642 ("A history of monsters with the addition of the history of all animals"), a compendium of reported human and animal abnormalities.

 

 

The book includes accounts not only of malformed natural births but also of entirely imaginary monsters. Despite his dedication to scientific accuracy, this sort of juxtaposition was common at the time, since there was not as yet a distinction between the literary and the scientific. If a given monster had been described by previous authors it was considered proper and erudite to mention it, whether or not it was actually real.

 

Upon his death Aldrovandi’s museum was bequeathed to the city of Bologna and became the city’s first public museum.

 

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My colleagues and I in the Library & Archives are very lucky to work with such fascinating and varied collections. But sometimes it is easy to take for granted the shelves upon shelves of books that we walk past in corridors on a daily basis.

 

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Recently we had a small display in our reading room, of some of the gems we have where the cover alone catches the imagination before you've even opened it up.

 

On a shelf with hundreds of others, with only a spine to catch the eye.

 

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The amount of detail and thought put into some is incredible. Of course they come from a period where photography was either non-existent or only in its infancy and where the skill of the artist was the only way to make your book stand out from the rest.

 

The subject of natural history lends itself so well to the creativity of a publisher/author, and it is fascinating how they weave the theme of the book into the design of it's cover.

 

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