Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP786

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
John Gould
30 September 1859

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Amboyna to John Gould [none given] on 30 September 1859.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


Reply to Gould's letter of June 25th; re. Semioptera wallacei G.R. Gray.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP786.958)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418781
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information





Sept[embe]r 30th. 1859.

My dear Mr. Gould

I hasten to reply to yours of June 25th. by return of post as requested, & it is pleasing to me to find that my collections excite so much interest. The following is an extract from my notebook:

1"It frequents the lower trees of the virgin forest, & is in almost constant motion. It flies from branch to branch, clings to the twigs, & even to the vertical smooth trunks almost as easily as a woodpecker. It continually utters a harsh creaking cry, something between that of Paradisea apoda & the more musical note of P. regia. The males at short intervals open & flutter their wings, erect the long shoulder feathers & expand the elegant shields on each side of the breast. Like the other Birds of Paradise, the females & young males far outnumber the fully plumaged birds which makes it probable that it is only in the 2nd. or 3rd. year that extraordinary [[2]] "accessory feathers are fully developed."

The bird seems to feed mostly on fruit, though it probably takes insects occasionally. The iris is of a deep olive, - the bill olive horny, the feet orange, & the claws horny. I have now obtained a few specimens of what appears to be the same bird from Gilolo, - but the crown is more decidedly violet & the plumes of the breast much longer.

I have now an interesting collection from Manado including the singular Megacephalon and also one from Gilolo with I think a new & fine Megapodius & the superb Pitta Maxima Fowls[?], the first bird I think of the whole family. After sending these off I am off to Ceram where I hope to do something good in ornithology. A paper lately sent to the Linnean will give you my ideas on the structure & origin of the Archipelago.

Yours faithfully | Alfred.R. Wallace [signature]

John Gould Esq.[uire]


1. The words "Semioptera Wallacii. G. R. Gray" have been written up the left margin.

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