Historical collections

The Museum's palaeontology holdings include collections from Sir Hans Sloane, Carl Dietrich Eberhard König and Thomas Pennant.

The details below were assembled from both original and secondary historic sources. The information should therefore be used as a general guide, not an accurate or current taxonomic determination, or a precise stratigraphical or geographical origin.

Sir Hans Sloane (1660 - 1753)

Sir Hans Sloane

Sir Hans Sloane (1660 - 1753)

Over his life time Sir Hans Sloane accumulated large numbers of plant and animal fossils, from around the world.

After his death in 1753, Sloane’s collection was acquired by the nation through an Act of Parliament, establishing the British Museum.

His fossils became the core collection of the first Department of Natural History at the British Museum.

In the 1880s many of Sloane’s specimens were transferred to the recently opened Natural History Museum.

Today Sloane's fossil collection is an important part of the Museum's palaeontology collections.

Browse the fossils in Sir Hans Sloane's collections

Karl Dietrich Eberhard König (1774 - 1851)

Karl Dietrich Eberhard König

Karl Dietrich Eberhard König (1774 - 1851)

Karl Dietrich Eberhard König was a German naturalist who came to England to organise Queen Charlotte's botanical collections in 1800.

König joined the British Museum as assistant Keeper of the Department of Natural History and Modern Curiosities in 1807.

He went on to become Keeper of Geology and Mineralogy, turning his attention to minerals and fossils.

König described over 60 fossil species in his classic work Icones fossilium sectiles (1825).  

The fossils he used for his work are known as the König Collection and held at the Museum.

Browse the fossils in Karl Dietrich Eberhard König's Collections

Thomas Pennant (1726 - 1798)

Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant (1726 - 1798)

Thomas Pennant was an 18th century naturalist, collector, antiquarian and correspondent of parson naturalist Gilbert White.

His collection was donated to the Museum by the Earl of Denbigh in 1912.

The collection contains about 1000 specimens of fossil vertebrates, mollusca, brachiopods and other organisms, some of which are described in Pennant’s manuscript Reliquiae Diluviannae: Catalogue of such bodies as were deposited in the Earth by the Deluge.

Browse the fossils in the Thomas Pennant Collections