Specimens in the historical collections housed at the Museum's Palaeontology Building are an invaluable resource for historical research and were the founding core of the British Museum and later the Natural History Museum. They mark the progress of early palaeontological exploration and the collections containing fossils were from:
- Hans Sloane (1660‐1753)
- Carl Dietrich Eberhard König (1774‐1851)
- Thomas Pennant (1726‐1798)
They are not only the core collections in the Department of Earth Sciences today, but also - through Sir Hans Sloane’s specimens - formed the basis of the British Museum and, ultimately, the Natural History Museum. The collection of König (or Koenig), first Keeper of the Department of Natural History and Modern Curiosities, refers to the fossil and mineralogical core collections that he described in his Icones fossilium sectiles (1825). Lastly, there is the Pennant (1726-1798) Collection, which is from the 18th century zoologist, antiquarian and correspondent of Gilbert White, and was donated to the British Museum in 1912 by the Earl of Denbigh. It has more than 1,000 specimens, some of them described in Pennant’s manuscript Reliquiae Diluviannae, or a Catalogue of such bodies as were deposited in the Earth by the Deluge.
Marta Martin Mendoza curating the Pennant Collection as part of her internship in the Department of Earth Sciences.
These collections contain fossils of multiple groups: bryozoans, molluscs, echinoderms, brachiopods, sponges, corals, arthropods, worms, fishes, reptiles, mammals, plants and artefacts.
The curation of the collections has just finished completely thanks to Marta Martin Mendoza and Jane Barnbrook’s help. Marta is performing a 6 month internship sponsored by the Spanish Government and Jane is a volunteer in the Department of Earth Sciences and the best reboxer ever! While Marta has been databasing and registering the specimens, Jane was reboxing all these with new trays and cutting the plastazote foam used for protection and storage to the shape of each fossil.
One of the drawers containing Pennant's specimens that has been reboxed by our volunteer, Jane Barnbrook
The fossil information has been uploaded to our Collection Management System (KE EMu) and is now accessible to other researchers from the Museum website. There are more than 1,300 specimens (with over 1,000 from the Pennant Collection).
Among these specimens, there are nice bryozoans such as the lectotype and paralectotype of Blumenbachium globosum Koenig, 1825 in the Koenig Collection, and specimens still unpublished of Cupuladria Canu & Bassler, 1919 in the Pennant Collection.
Lectotype (on the left) and paralectotype (on the right) of Blumenbachium globosum Koenig, 1825 from Coralline Crag of Suffolk [Koenig Collection].
Specimens of Cupuladria Canu & Bassler, 1919 from Paleogene (?) [Pennant Collection].