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Special collections

Scope of the collections

These web pages will be developed further to include the content of the special collections and biographical information about their many benefactors. For now, details of the library's founders and their collections are given, as well as some other special collections.

The Balfour & Newton Libraries' Special Collections comprise approximately 8,750 volumes which date from the fifteenth to the mid-twentieth century, as well as over 100,000 reprints and over 530 theses, manuscripts, photographs and several paintings.

 

Books dating from the fifteenth to mid-twentieth centuries

Short catalogue records for the books in these collections can be retrieved via LibrarySearch, the online catalogue for the libraries in the University of Cambridge. We aim to raise the funds to retrospectively catalogue the collections according to national and international bibliographical standards in future.

In short, the collections are primarily made of gifts with some more recent purchases added as appropriate. These include the bequests from the two main library founders, Francis Maitland Balfour and Alfred Newton and the following collections:

  • The MacAndrew Collection (1873). Conchology. 300 volumes.
  • The Strickland Collection (1875 & 1881). Ornithology. 422 volumes.
  • The Oates Collection (1897-1940). Ornithology.
  • The Buckley Collection (1903). (transferred to University Library, 1975). Chiefly fauna of Africa. 260 volumes and other items including papers and maps.
  • The Webb Smith Collection (1902). 500 original water colours of African and Indian birds and scenes which were presented by Mrs. Atkinson of Clare College.
  • The Norman Collection (1912). Natural history. Over 1200 volumes.
  • The Doncaster Collection (1920). Cytology
  • The Hogg Collection (1924). Spiders etc.
  • The Watson Collection (1960). Malacology. Over 1000 reprints and 50 books.
  • The Papers of Sir Vincent Wigglesworth (transferred to Churchill College Archives Centre, 1992). Entomology.
  • The Wigglesworth Reprint Collection (1991). Entomology
  • The Roger Lubbock Collection  (1980's?). Fish. 30 volumes, mainly on open access.
  • Eltringham African Collection (2006). African ecology, wildlife conservation and management. Over 135 books and other items, around 50 theses.

 

Reprints

There are over 100,000 scientific reprints dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

Theses

There is a collection of over 530 theses, mainly written by postgraduate students from the Department of Zoology. 

 

Portraits

There is a collection of portraits (paintings, photographs, busts, likenesses, group photographs, carte de visites, etc.) of prominent scientists. A list of these is available to download here. Please note that this is a work in progress, and as such cannot be guaranteed to be completely accurate. Please direct any queries about these portraits to the  in the first instance.

 

Manuscripts and archives

The Balfour & Newton Libraries owns a substantial collection of manuscripts and archives. The bulk of the collection is made up of the Alfred Newton Papers, which includes all of Professor Alfred Newton's correspondence as well as photographs, prints, printed papers and pamphlets. There is also some teaching and research material that belonged to or relates to other former members of the Department of Zoology. This entire collection was transferred to the Department of Manuscripts & University Archives at Cambridge University Library in 1989.

Please see here for more information on this collection, from where you will be able to download a PDF catalogue of the collection. Please note that at the end of that document there is a brief list of material that has not yet been catalogued; it may be that we have more details of this material than is described in the catalogue so please contact the  if you have any queries. Otherwise you will need to contact the Department of Manuscripts & University Archives at Cambridge University Library directly to make an appointment to consult the material there.

 

Bibliographies

The Balfour & Newton Libraries' Special Collections are listed in these two bibliographies:

  • Bloomfield, B.C. (ed.) (1997) A Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the United Kingdom & the Republic of Ireland, 2nd edition.
  • Bridson, G.D.R., Phillips, V.C. & Harvey, A.P. (1980) Natural History Manuscript Resources in the British Isles, Mansell, London.

 

Current display

Due to popular demand, more remarkable plates from this work will be on display throughout the year!

The rare book on display from our collection is: A history of the birds of Europe including all the species inhabiting the Western Palaearctic region, by Henry E. Dresser. Volume 6. London: Published by the author; 1871-1887.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.4 (1)Greylag goose

The book is open at: Plate 411, Anser cinereus or Anser anser (Greylag goose). This plate is a hand coloured lithograph produced by J. G. Keulemans, a renowned ornithological illustrator, and depicts an adult male standing by the water’s edge. Keulemans’ lithograph displays the different shades of brown in the plumage and the looser feathers around the neck. The drawing of the legs and feet is also beautifully detailed.

Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) was born in Thirsk. After his schooling in Bromley, Kent and at a German school near Hamburg he entered his father’s timber-merchant business and travelled extensively in northern Europe from 1834 to 1862. From his time at school in Germany he began to systematically collect the eggs and bird skins of Palaearctic birds. He deposited some 12,000 items at the Manchester Museum from 1899 onwards.

Dresser left England with a cargo for Texas in 1863 and spent over a year collecting there. Shortly after his return to England he published his first scientific paper, Notes on the birds of southern Texas, in Ibis in 1865. He continued to contribute to Ibis from then until 1909; and also joined the British Ornithologist’s Union in the same year. He was also a member and fellow of the Linnean Society and Zoological Society of London, and was an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He was an authority on the birds of Europe and the author of several important works, including A history of the birds of Europe. Eight quarto volumes of this were published between 1871 and 1881, which were illustrated with 633 hand coloured plates, mainly prepared from drawings by Joseph Wolf, J. G. Keulemans and E. Neale.

After returning from Texas, Dresser started work in the iron trade in London but continued to travel extensively throughout the whole of his life.

John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) provided the plate on display here. He was a Dutch bird illustrator who worked in London from 1868 and regularly provided illustrations for Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society, and many important bird books such as A history of the birds of Europe. His illustrations were produced through traditional lithography [a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface], allowing for a finished product that depicts a vivid, life-like figure through depth and tone.

Professor Alfred Newton subscribed to A History of the Birds of Europe as it was published in its parts. He has made a note inside the first volume of the number of subscribers (374), the top three of whom are “His Majesty the King of Italy, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh K.G., H. H. Duleep Singh, Elveden Hall, Thetford”, in that order. Interestingly, the Newton family lived on the Elveden Estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border until Newton’s father died in 1863. 

The greylag is one of the most common species of goose to be found in Britain. They can be seen in lowland areas of the UK throughout the year, sometimes in suburban parks with lakes but usually on low-lying grassy fields in river valleys. Wild greylag geese are found in Scotland between September and March or April. This species is the ancestor of the domesticated goose which will be served up as Christmas dinner for some this year.

Sources:

Dresser’s obituary in Ibis 58 (2) 340:342 (April 1916) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1916.tb07939.x/abstract

Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr12

RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Wikipedia ‘Greylag goose’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greylag_goose 

 Wikipedia ‘John Gerrard Keulemans’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Wikipedia ‘Lithography’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithography

 

Previous displays

Please see the Library News blog at http://www.balfourlibrary.blogspot.com/ for more information, and photos.

May 2014

The rare book on display from our collection is: A history of the birds of Europe including all the species inhabiting the Western Palaearctic region, by Henry E. Dresser. Volume 5. London: Published by the author; 1871-1887.

Due to popular demand, more remarkable plates from this work will be on display throughout the year!

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.4 (1)

The book is open at: Plate 299, Cuculus canorus (Cuckoo). This plate is a hand coloured lithograph produced by J. G. Keulemans, a renowned ornithological illustrator, and depicts an adult male and a young cuckoo perching on a branch. Keulemans’ lithograph displays beautifully the variations between the adult and juvenile birds, especially in the detailed plumage of the young cuckoo.

Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) was born in Thirsk. After his schooling in Bromley, Kent and at a German school near Hamburg he entered his father’s timber-merchant business and travelled extensively in northern Europe from 1834 to 1862. From his time at school in Germany he began to systematically collect the eggs and bird skins of Palaearctic birds. He deposited some 12,000 items at the Manchester Museum from 1899 onwards.

Dresser left England with a cargo for Texas in 1863 and spent over a year collecting there. Shortly after his return to England he published his first scientific paper, Notes on the birds of southern Texas, in Ibis in 1865. He continued to contribute to Ibis from then until 1909; and also joined the British Ornithologist’s Union in the same year. He was also a member and fellow of the Linnean Society and Zoological Society of London, and was an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He was an authority on the birds of Europe and the author of several important works, including A history of the birds of Europe. Eight quarto volumes of this were published between 1871 and 1881, which were illustrated with 633 hand coloured plates, mainly prepared from drawings by Joseph Wolf, J. G. Keulemans and E. Neale.

After returning from Texas, Dresser started work in the iron trade in London but continued to travel extensively throughout the whole of his life.

John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) provided the plate on display here. He was a Dutch bird illustrator who worked in London from 1868 and regularly provided illustrations for Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society, and many important bird books such as A history of the birds of Europe. His illustrations were produced through traditional lithography [a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface], allowing for a finished product that depicts a vivid, life-like figure through depth and tone.

Professor Alfred Newton subscribed to A History of the Birds of Europe as it was published in its parts. He has made a note inside the first volume of the number of subscribers (374), the top three of whom are “His Majesty the King of Italy, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh K.G., H. H. Duleep Singh, Elveden Hall, Thetford”, in that order. Interestingly, the Newton family lived on the Elveden Estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border until Newton’s father died in 1863.

The adult cuckoo usually arrives in late March or April and departs in July or August. Cuckoos are famous brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds. Cuckoo eggs hatch earlier and their chicks grow faster so they are able to evict any eggs or young of the host species to improve their own chances of survival.

Sources:

Dresser’s obituary in Ibis 58 (2) 340:342 (April 1916) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1916.tb07939.x/abstract

Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr12

RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Wikipedia ‘Cuckoo’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuckoo

Wikipedia ‘John Gerrard Keulemans’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Wikipedia ‘Lithography’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithography

 

November 2013

Due to popular demand, more remarkable plates from this work will be on display throughout the year!

The rare book on display from our collection is: A history of the birds of Europe including all the species inhabiting the Western Palaearctic region, by Henry E. Dresser. Volume 2. London: Published by the author; 1871-1887.  

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.4 (1)

The book is open at: Plate 51, Erithacus rubecula (Redbreast, more commonly known as a Robin). This plate is a hand coloured lithograph produced by J. G. Keulemans, a renowned ornithological illustrator, and depicts an adult male and a young redbreast perching on a branch. The breast of the adult male is a vivid shade of orange which belies its name but is more realistic. The fine detail in the hand colouring of Keulemans’ lithograph is especially noticeable in the plumage of the young redbreast but as with all of his lithographs it is the eyes that are one of the most striking features.

Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) was born in Thirsk. After his schooling in Bromley, Kent and at a German school near Hamburg he entered his father’s timber-merchant business and travelled extensively in northern Europe from 1834 to 1862. From his time at school in Germany he began to systematically collect the eggs and bird skins of Palaearctic birds. He deposited some 12,000 items at the Manchester Museum from 1899 onwards.

Dresser left England with a cargo for Texas in 1863 and spent over a year collecting there. Shortly after his return to England he published his first scientific paper, Notes on the birds of southern Texas, in Ibis in 1865. He continued to contribute to Ibis from then until 1909; and also joined the British Ornithologist’s Union in the same year. He was also a member and fellow of the Linnean Society and Zoological Society of London, and was an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He was an authority on the birds of Europe and the author of several important works, including A history of the birds of Europe. Eight quarto volumes of this were published between 1871 and 1881, which were illustrated with 633 hand coloured plates, mainly prepared from drawings by Joseph Wolf, J. G. Keulemans and E. Neale.

After returning from Texas, Dresser started work in the iron trade in London but continued to travel extensively throughout the whole of his life.

John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) provided the plate on display here. He was a Dutch bird illustrator who worked in London from 1868 and regularly provided illustrations for Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society, and many important bird books such as A history of the birds of Europe. His illustrations were produced through traditional lithography [a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface], allowing for a finished product that depicts a vivid, life-like figure through depth and tone.

Professor Alfred Newton subscribed to A History of the Birds of Europe as it was published in its parts. He has made a note inside the first volume of the number of subscribers (374), the top three of whom are “His Majesty the King of Italy, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh K.G., H. H. Duleep Singh, Elveden Hall, Thetford”, in that order. Interestingly, the Newton family lived on the Elveden Estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border until Newton’s father died in 1863.

The robin can be seen throughout the year but is particularly associated with Christmas time. According to the RSPB robins are aggressively territorial and are quick to drive away intruders. This presents a very different view to their depiction on Christmas cards!

Sources:

Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/

Dresser’s obituary in Ibis 58 (2) 340:342 (April 1916) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1916.tb07939.x/abstract

Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr12

RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Wikipedia ‘John Gerrard Keulemans’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Wikipedia ‘Lithography’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithography

 

April 2013

Due to popular demand, more remarkable plates from this work will be on display throughout the year!

The rare book on display from our collection is: A history of the birds of Europe including all the speciesDresser's golden oriole small inhabiting the Western Palaearctic region, by Henry E. Dresser. Volume 3. London: Published by the author; 1871-1887.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.4 (1)

The book is open at: Plate 144, Oriolus galbula (Golden oriole). This plate is a hand coloured lithograph produced by J. G. Keulemans, a renowned ornithological illustrator, and depicts a male and a female oriole perching on a branch. The yellow feathers of the male are particularly striking, and the detail in the fine hand colouring, especially on the breast of the female, is also very impressive. As always with Keulemans’ lithographs, the treatment of the eyes of the birds really brings them to life on the page.

Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) was born in Thirsk. After his schooling in Bromley, Kent and at a German school near Hamburg he entered his father’s timber-merchant business and travelled extensively in northern Europe from 1834 to 1862. From his time at school in Germany he began to systematically collect the eggs and bird skins of Palaearctic birds. He deposited some 12,000 items at the Manchester Museum from 1899 onwards.

Dresser left England with a cargo for Texas in 1863 and spent over a year collecting there. Shortly after his return to England he published his first scientific paper, Notes on the birds of southern Texas, in Ibis in 1865. He continued to contribute to Ibis from then until 1909; and also joined the British Ornithologist’s Union in the same year. He was also a member and fellow of the Linnean Society and Zoological Society of London, and was an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He was an authority on the birds of Europe and the author of several important works, including A history of the birds of Europe. Eight quarto volumes of this were published between 1871 and 1881, which were illustrated with 633 hand coloured plates, mainly prepared from drawings by Joseph Wolf, J. G. Keulemans and E. Neale.

After returning from Texas, Dresser started work in the iron trade in London but continued to travel extensively throughout the whole of his life.

John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) provided the plate on display here. He was a Dutch bird illustrator who worked in London from 1868 and regularly provided illustrations for Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society, and many important bird books such as A history of the birds of Europe. His illustrations were produced through traditional lithography [a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface], allowing for a finished product that depicts a vivid, life-like figure through depth and tone.

Professor Alfred Newton subscribed to A History of the Birds of Europe as it was published in its parts. He has made a note inside the first volume of the number of subscribers (374), the top three of whom are “His Majesty the King of Italy, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh K.G., H. H. Duleep Singh, Elveden Hall, Thetford”, in that order. Interestingly, the Newton family lived on the Elveden Estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border until Newton’s father died in 1863.

According to the RSPB the elusive Golden oriole mainly arrives in May and stays until August. The best place to find them is at Lakenheath Fen; try finding them by listening for their call in May to July.

Sources:

Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/

Dresser’s obituary in Ibis 58 (2) 340:342 (April 1916) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1916.tb07939.x/abstract

Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr12

RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Wikipedia ‘John Gerrard Keulemans’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Wikipedia ‘Lithography’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithography

December 2012

ptarmigan2The rare book on display from our collection is: A history of the birds of Europe including all the species inhabiting the Western Palaearctic region, by Henry E. Dresser. Volume 7. London: Published by the author; 1871-1887.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.4 (1)

The book is open at: Plate 484, Lagopus albus, Lagopus mutus, "willow-ptarmigan" in winter plumage. This plate is a hand coloured lithograph produced by J. G. Keulemans, a renowned ornithological illustrator, and depicts the two ptarmigans in a snowy and mountainous scene. Although the dominant colour in this plate is white, the engraving of the feathers of the birds, especially on the legs and feet, is extremely finely detailed. The hand colouring has been expertly done, especially in the eyes, and this helps to really animate the birds on the page.

Henry Eeles Dresser (1838-1915) was born in Thirsk. After his schooling in Bromley, Kent and at a German school near Hamburg he entered his father’s timber-merchant business and travelled extensively in northern Europe from 1834 to 1862. From his time at school in Germany he began to systematically collect the eggs and bird skins of Palaearctic birds. He deposited some 12,000 items at the Manchester Museum from 1899 onwards.

Dresser left England with a cargo for Texas in 1863 and spent over a year collecting there. Shortly after his return to England he published his first scientific paper, Notes on the birds of southern Texas, in Ibis in 1865. He continued to contribute to Ibis from then until 1909; and also joined the British Ornithologist’s Union in the same year. He was also a member and fellow of the Linnean Society and Zoological Society of London, and was an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He was an authority on the birds of Europe and the author of several important works, including A history of the birds of Europe. Eight quarto volumes of this were published between 1871 and 1881, which were illustrated with 633 hand coloured plates, mainly prepared from drawings by Joseph Wolf, J. G. Keulemans and E. Neale.

After returning from Texas, Dresser started work in the iron trade in London but continued to travel extensively throughout the whole of his life.

John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) provided the plate on display here. He was a Dutch bird illustrator who worked in London from 1868 and regularly provided illustrations for Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society, and many important bird books such as A history of the birds of Europe. His illustrations were produced through traditional lithography [a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface], allowing for a finished product that depicts a vivid, life-like figure through depth and tone.

Professor Alfred Newton subscribed to A History of the Birds of Europe as it was published in its parts. He has made a note inside the first volume of the number of subscribers (374), the top three of whom are "His Majesty the King of Italy, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh K.G., H. H. Duleep Singh, Elveden Hall, Thetford", in that order. Interestingly, the Newton family lived on the Elveden Estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border until Newton’s father died in 1863.

Lagopus muta (rock ptarmigan) is found in alpine and arctic tundra regions of Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, Finland, Greenland, etc. Winter habitat is usually brushy slopes near the timberline, where vegetation pokes through snow. All ptarmigans have feathered feet, which act as snowshoes. The feathers may also increase insulation.

Sources:

Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/

Dresser’s obituary in Ibis 58 (2) 340:342 (April 1916) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1916.tb07939.x/abstract

Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr12

Wikipedia 'John Gerrard Keulemans' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerrard_Keulemans

Wikipedia 'Lithography' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithography

Frisch finchesSeptember 2012

The rare book on display from our collection is: Vorstellung der Vögel Deutschlandes und beyläufig auch eigener Fremden; nach ihren Eigenschaften beschrieben von Johann Leonhard Frisch, in Kupfer gebracht, und nach ihren natürlichen Farben dargestellt von Ferdinand Helfreich Frisch. Berlin: Friedr. Wilhelm Birnstiel; 1763.

Balfour Library shelf mark:  Folio (193).

The book is open at:Plate 1, Buchfink and Distelfink [chaffinch and goldfinch]. These beautifully detailed, hand coloured, copper engraved plates depict birds that are quite familiar to us so it is interesting to see how accurate the illustrations are. Brightly coloured pairs of male and female finches are described as ‘Er’ and ‘Sie’ (he and she). If you look closely you will see the skilled detail in the engravings and the individual brushstrokes that colour them.

This work is the first German bird book with excellent folio colour plates which feature European and exotic birds, including a number of parrots, drawn from the Frisch family collection of preserved specimens. There is clever use of a technique to make certain aspects of a bird “shine”, such as the combs on chickens, and the eyes of all of the birds consistently appear like this.

Johann Leonhard Frisch (1666-1743) was a theologian, naturalist, and philologist specialising in Slavic languages; he taught Leibnitz Russian, and the latter had him elected to the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He is credited with the discovery of Prussian blue, and also introducing sericulture to Germany; he planted mulberry trees around the walls of Berlin from which were produced a hundred pounds of silk.

The plates of Vorstellung der Vögel Deutschlandes und beyläufig auch eigener Fremden were drawn and engraved by the author’s sons Ferdinand Helfreich and Philipp Jakob; Johann. Christoph, the author’s grandson, executed the final 30 plates, and also engraved the portrait-frontispiece after a design by B. Rode. The original drawings are preserved in the Jacob Moyat collection in the Stadtbibliothek in Mainz.

A rare book bibliography (Anker) describes how “the birds are divided into 12 classes and the plates, which contain altogether 307 figures, are accompanied by a brief text divided according to the classes and sections, the subtitles of which open with the words ‘Kurtze Nachricht’ or ‘Fortsetzung einer kurtzen [kurzen] Nachricht’. After the death of J.L. Frisch the publication was continued by his sons, of whom Just Leopold Frisch prepared the text, assisted, chiefly at the end, by Baron Friedrich August von Zorn, who also compiled the comprehensive index”.

Sources:

J. Haffer. The development of ornithology in central Europe. J Ornithol. (2007) 148 (Suppl 1):S125–S153. DOI 10.1007/s10336-007-0160-2

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers http://www.ilab.org/index.php

April 2012

hookeThe rare book on display from our collection is: Micrographia restaurata: or, the copper-plates of Dr. Hooke's wonderful discoveries by the microscope, reprinted and fully explained. Whereby the most valuable particulars in that celebrated author's Micrographia are brought together in a narrow compass and intermixed, occasionally, with many entertaining and instructive discoveries and observations in natural history, by Robert Hooke. London: John Bowles; 1765.

Balfour Library shelf mark:  Folio (101).

The book is open at: Plate 26, The great-bellyed, or female Gnat. This is a spectacular copperplate engraving depicting a gnat under the microscope. All of the plates in this work gave readers an amazing insight into the miniature world of animals for perhaps the first time.

Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was an English instrument-maker, experimentalist and natural philosopher. In 1653 or 1654 he went to Christ Church, Oxford, initially as a chorister, but then serving as assistant to Robert Boyle. Hooke assisted Boyle with his experiments on the spring and the weight of air and was thus exposed to active scientific research.

In 1662 Hooke was working as curator for experiments for the newly formed Royal Society of London, his task being to provide three or four experiments at each meeting. Hooke published the demonstrations and commentaries he gave at these meetings in works such as the Micrographia, or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses, with observations and inquiries thereupon (1665). This book initiated the field of microscopy; Hooke applied his microscope to inanimate and animate objects, revealing remarkable features about their structure. His talent for drawing and attention to detail is evident in the many plates included in the volume, especially those of the fly, gnat and flea, and his text provides clear and precise descriptions of observations, and also explanations of the things observed.

Many of the observations he recorded in Micrographia were new. For example in his observation on the structure of cork he became the first scientist to describe cells (he coined that term because plant cells, which are walled, reminded him of monks’ chambers), and he was the first to describe the compound eye of the fly.

Forty years after Hooke’s death, Micrographia had become difficult and expensive to obtain. The Micrographia was reissued in 1745 in a condensed form. This version, Micrographia Restaurata (Micrographia Restored) contains all of Hooke’s original engravings, most of which were printed from the original copper plates. The commentary is shorter and simpler than the original, but preserves the important features of Hooke’s original observations.

Sources:

King’s College London, Special Collections, Hooke’s Micrographia http://www.kingscollections.org/exhibitions/specialcollections/to-scrutinize-nature/boyle-and-hooke/hookes-micrographia

Patri J. Pugliese, ‘Hooke, Robert (1635–1703)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13693, accessed 18 April 2012]

Rod Beavan at http://www.roberthooke.org.uk/

Sutton, John (Apr 2001) Hooke, Robert. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002424]

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrographia

November 2011

Schaeffer's cockerelThe rare book on display from our collection is: Elementa ornithologica iconibus vivis coloribus expressis illustrata. Edicio secunda, by Jacob Christian Schaeffer. Ratisbonae, Typis Breitfeldianis, 1779.

Balfour Library shelf mark:  qK (8).

The book is open at: Plate 38: Cockerel. This is a beautiful, hand coloured engraving of the bird, skilfully rendering all the colours of its bright and varied plumage. He is so lifelike that he appears to be strutting right off the page. The plate includes a diagram of the bird’s tongue, and this was included for most of the birds illustrated throughout this work. It was erroneously assumed that if songbirds in particular were to speak, it was necessary to ‘loosen’ their tongues.

Jacob Christian Schaeffer (1718-1790) was a German dean, professor, botanist, mycologist, entomologist, ornithologist and inventor. He studied theology at the University of Halle, became a teacher in Ratisbon, and eventually became an extraordinary professor. He was also awarded the titles of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Divinity by two German universities and became Pasteur in Ratisbon in 1779.

In Elementa ornithologica Schaeffer organised birds according to his own system of classification.  He divided birds into two classes, Nudipedes (those with naked legs) and Plumipedes (with feathered legs). These two groups more or less correspond to the Land and Water birds classification of previous authors.

Schaeffer published several works, including this one, as well as Elementa entomologica in1776, of which the Balfour Library owns a copy. He was aware of the difficulties in hand-colouring the engravings in the works he published and recommended that colour charts be made: he suggested that fixed criteria for discerning different colours should be defined, that each defined colour should be given an unambiguous name, and that this combination of colour and name should be made available to the public by way of samples. When it came to mixing the colours for the charts, he recommended that one should imitate as closely as possible the colours that one found in plants and animals.

Schaeffer also experimented with electricity and optics, tried to manufacture his own lenses and paper, and became famous for having made one of the first washing machines!

Sources:

Tim Birkhead. The wisdom of birds: an illustrated history of ornithology. London: Bloomsbury; 2008. Balfour Library shelfmark: K (227). (An illustration of a starling from this work is included in this book on p. 251).

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers http://www.ilab.org/index.php

Jacob Christian Schäffer. Wikipedia article at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Christian_Sch%C3%A4ffer

Kärin Nickelsen. The challenge of colour: eighteenth-century botanists and the hand-colouring of illustrations. Annals of Science, Volume 63, Number 1/January 2006, pp. 3-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00033790500151177

Michael Walters. A concise history of ornithology: the lives and works of its founding figures. London: Christopher Helm; 2003. Balfour Library shelfmark: K (225).

May 2011

chunThe rare book on display from our collection is: Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der deutschen Tiefsee-Expedition auf dem Dampfer “Valdivia” 1898-1899, im Auftrage des Reichsamtes des Innern, herausgegeben von Carl Chun. Fünfzehnter Band. Die Tiefsee-Fische, bearbeitet von August Brauer. 1. Systematischer Teil. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fischer; 1908.

Balfour Library shelf mark: Fauna 364 (19)

The book is open at: Tafel 1: Gigantura Chuni, A. Brauer; Winteria Telescopa, A. Brauer; Opisthroproctus soleatus, Vaillant. The deep-sea fish displayed here are from the Actinopterygii subclass of ray-finned fish, which includes the majority of living bony fish of sea and fresh water. The fins are composed of a membranous web of skin supported by a varying number of spines and soft rays. Opisthoproctidae (barreleye, spookfish) usually have tubular eyes and directed upward, and they rarely exceed 15cm in length. The Giganthuridae have a large mouth with depressible teeth, tubular, telescopic eyes, a scaleless body, high pectoral fins and a long lower lobe to the forked tail fin. The small ones (15cm) occur at depths exceeding 2000m.

The lithographic printing technique has been used to create the amazing and lifelike iridescent colouring of the fish, and manages to turn somewhat ugly creatures into almost beautiful ones! The design is simply drawn on the smooth printing surface (initially limestone but lately metal or plastic sheets) with a greasy crayon and after this has been chemically fixed, the stone is wetted and then rolled with oily ink, which adheres only to the greasy drawing, the rest of the surface, being damp, repelling the ink. Prints can then be taken in a press. Colour lithography, using a different stone for each ink, was introduced in the 1830s.

This volume contains the scientific results, relating to deep-sea fish, of the German Deep-Sea Expedition on the steamship Valdivia in the late nineteenth century. Carl Chun studied zoology at the University of Leipzig, where he was appointed Professor of Biology. Chun proposed at a meeting of Deutsche Naturforscher und Aerzte in Leipzig that there should be a deep-sea expedition for zoological observations, and it was later agreed that the scope should be widened to include physical and chemical observations. The German government sponsored the expedition, which was led by Chun. The ship visited Cape Town before heading south past Prince Edward Island to the edge of the Antarctic ice, returning northwards through the centre of the Indian Ocean, returning home by way of the Mediterranean, to Hamburg on 30 April 1899.

The ship was adapted for its scientific purposes: a deck-house for microscopic work was erected; a room was set up as a chemical laboratory, lighted from the roof and with electricity; a dark room was set up for photographic work; and space was created for all the specimens. Members of the expedition numbered 11, including several zoologists, an oceanographer, a botanist, a chemist, and a physician and bacteriologist. Friedrich Winter was on board as a photographer and scientific draughtsman, and he printed the plates in this volume. Dr August Brauer was on board as a zoologist, whom it appears some of the specimens in this plate were named after. The scientific results of the expedition were published in 24 volumes, all of which the Balfour Library owns copies of.

Sources:

"Actinopterygii"  A Dictionary of Zoology. Ed. Michael Allaby. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cambridge.  23 May 2011  http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t8.e82

Carl Chun collection (held at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/) on the Archives hub http://archiveshub.ac.uk/

The German Deep-Sea Expedition. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 12, No. 5 (Nov., 1898), pp. 494-496. Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographic Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
Stable  URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/i303198 Accessed: 20/05/2011 07:15.

"Giganthuridae"  A Dictionary of Zoology. Ed. Michael Allaby. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cambridge.  23 May 2011  http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t8.e3627

"lithography"  The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Ed Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press 2009
Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cambridge.  23 May 2011  http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t3.e1427

Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed May 23, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org

"Opisthoproctidae"  A Dictionary of Zoology. Ed. Michael Allaby. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cambridge.  23 May 2011  http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t8.e6123

November 2010

curlew314bThe rare book on display from our collection is: History of British birds: the figures engraved on wood by T. Bewick. Vol. 1, containing the history and description of land birds. Vol. 2., containing the history and description of water birds. Newcastle, 1797 and 1804.

Balfour Library shelf mark: HBF 2 (1-2)

The book is open at: Vol. 2, p.54 - Curlew. This is a first edition copy of the work. This woodcut of a curlew beautifully defines the bird’s features, as well as the surrounding water, foliage and rocks, and conveys the sense of movement caused by the wind in the reeds. Bewick was a pioneer of wood engraving technique.

Thomas Bewick, a wood engraver, was born near Eltringham, Northumberland, on 10th or 12th August 1753, and died in Gateshead on 8th November 1828. He was apprenticed aged 14 to Ralph Beilby, a Newcastle engraver who taught him how to engrave metal, silver and copperplate.

Bewick entered into partnership with Beilby in 1777. Beilby apparently did not like wood engraving but Bewick preferred it. His skill soon became evident and well-known in the work he was producing for printers of children’s books and books of fables. He refined the ‘white line’ technique; the block surface was seen as solid black before cutting took place, and each cut made was to create white light. This technique was very expressive, and he handled texture and the balance of light and shade particularly well.

Bewick eventually published his own natural history books that incorporated his own wood engravings. The General History of Quadrupeds was published in 1790. He produced the woodcuts for this in his own time after his days at the workshop, and the text was written by Beilby. For the History of British Birds Bewick wrote the text as well as producing the woodcuts, demonstrating his knowledge and skill as a naturalist as well as an engraver. His publications were especially noted for their ‘tail pieces’, vignettes used to fill space after text. They expressed varied aspects of north-country life, with humour and affection, a love of nature, and often had a moral point to them. These were regarded perhaps even more highly than the main illustrations.

The scientist William Yarrell named the Bewick's swan in honour of Bewick in 1830.

Sources:

Bain, Iain. “Bewick, Thomas (1753–1828).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, May 2005. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/2334 (accessed November 26, 2010).

Colin Campbell. "Bewick, Thomas." In Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T008554 (accessed November 26, 2010).

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Further reading:

Uglow, Jenny. Nature’s engraver: a life of Thomas Bewick. London: Faber and Faber, 2007. http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Natures_Engraver/9780571223756

June 2010

cuckoo 002The rare book on display from our collection is: Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique, par François Levaillant. Tome cinquième. Paris: Delachaussé , 1804.

Balfour Library shelf mark: q Strickland 400.

The book is open at: Planche 210. Le coucou didric, mâle. The bird is from the genus Chrysococcyx (bronze-cuckoos), species Chrysococcyx caprius (Diederik cuckoo).

This splendid green, bronze, black and white coloured male bird is depicted perching on a branch. This is a high quality, hand coloured, metal engraving. The adult birds of both sexes actually have striking red irises and eye-rings (as seen in photographs online), whereas those of this bird are painted as brown. Its distribution is sub-Saharan Africa, also Saudi Arabia. The bird gets its name from its call “dee-dee-dee-diederik”, and it is a brood parasite. Le Vaillant visited Africa personally to observe the habits and collect specimens of the birds there.

François Le Vaillant (1753-1824) was born in Surinam but returned with his family to Europe in 1763. According to the François Le Vaillant: traveller and ornithologist website, he lacked formal training but was an enthusiastic field ornithologist and a skilful and prolific hunter. Le Vaillant’s voyage to South Africa in 1781 was sponsored by Jacob Temminck and he returned with collections of over 2,000 birds, insects, mammals, plants and ethnological objects. On his return to Paris he began working on his books of travels.

Le Vaillant has always been controversial. His travel books are considerably fictionalised and his bird books include conspicuous falsehoods and fabrications, but recent research has apparently begun to rehabilitate his reputation.

Le Vaillant is most famous for his 6 volume work Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique, 1799-1808 which contains sumptuous bird engravings.

Sources:

Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2008. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed May 27, 2010 at http://animaldiversity.org

Internet Bird Collection http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/diederik-cuckoo-chrysococcyx-caprius Accessed May 27, 2010

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J. eds. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Balfour Library shelfmark: qK (51)

Beautiful birds: masterpieces from the Hill Ornithology Collection, Cornell University Library http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/ornithology/ Accessed May 27, 2010

François Le Vaillant, traveller and ornithologist

Further reading:

François Le Vaillant and the birds of Africa, by L.C. Rookmaaker ... [et al.]; translator, F.M. Webb. Johannesburg : Brenthurst Press, 2004. Balfour Library shelfmark: q KZ .6 (49)

December 2009

mongousThe rare book on display from our collection is: Histoire naturelle: générale et particulière, servant de suite á l’histoire des animaux quadrupèdes. Quadrupèdes, Tome Huitième. Par feu M. le Comte de Buffon. Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale; 1789.

Balfour Library shelf mark: HBD (2) 14

The book is open at: Plate XXXIII, p. 118, "Le grand mongous". This is a beautiful engraving, apparently of a lemur. The amount of detail in the animal’s fur and limbs is quite impressive. The illustration sits alongside Buffon’s description of the animal. Buffon’s biographer Jacques Roger has observed that his style of writing makes the animals he describes come alive before the reader’s inner eye.

Georges Louis Buffon, 1707–1788, was a French natural philosopher, most famous for his work Histoire naturelle. Originally a mathematician, Buffon gained admission to the Académie Royale des Sciences in 1734. By 1739 his writings on organic nature had won him sufficient renown to secure his appointment as keeper of the Jardin du Roi in Paris, a prestigious establishment of museums, gardens and menageries.

Buffon’s interests then turned to geology, chemistry and natural history, and he published his famous work Histoire naturelle. This was a huge project; it was published in fifteen quarto volumes which appeared at intervals over an eighteen-year period from 1749 to 1767. Seven supplementary volumes followed, the last of which did not appear until after Buffon’s death.

Linnaeus had selected one defining characteristic as being of primary significance and thus created a hierarchical classification. Buffon however grouped animals into classes and genera which shared particular characteristics of morphology, anatomy, or behaviour. He described a loose network of similarities and relationships between different classes, genera and species, with some species bridging the gap between classes (e.g. bats bridge the gap between quadrupeds and birds, apes bridge the gap between quadrupeds and man). His system was homocentric and he structured the Histoire naturelle in order to reflect man’s relationship with animals, dealing first of all with domestic animals.

Sources:

Browne, Janet (March 1999) Buffon, Georges Louis. In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester http://www.els.net/ [doi:10.1038/npg.els.0002378]

King’s College London libraries, Special Collections Online Exhibition: From the four corners of the earth.

WOKLER, ROBERT (1998). Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge. Retrieved October 14, 2005, from http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/DB010SECT1

See also the full text of the complete works of Buffon on the Buffon et l'histoire naturelle : l'édition en ligne / Histoire Naturelle by Buffon : the web edition website at http://www.buffon.cnrs.fr/

July 2009

Moore lepidopteraThe rare book on display from our collection is: The Lepidoptera of Ceylon, by F. Moore. Vols. 1-3. London: L. Reeve & Co.; 1880-1887.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qQN (1)

The book is open at: Plate 63 (from vol. 1): specimens of Papilionidae (swallowtail butterflies). This plate shows amazingly detailed bright green and subtle yellow coloured butterflies from different angles, as well as their pupae and caterpillars.

Frederic Moore (1830-1907) was a distinguished entomologist and a prominent Fellow of the Entomological Society for more than 50 years. He was also a Fellow of the Zoological Society and was elected an Associate of the Linnean Society in 1881. He joined the staff of the East India Museum in 1848 and worked there as Assistant Curator until its absorption with the British Museum in 1879. Moore’s principal interest was in Indian lepidoptera; his obituary in The Zoologist states “He was a pioneer in the study of Indian Lepidoptera, and he knew these insects intimately better than any man living”. He was also a talented botanical and zoological artist.

His principal works are A Catalogue of the Lepidopterous Insects in the Museum of the Hon. East India Company, two vols. (1857-59), and The Lepidoptera of Ceylon, three vols. (1880-87). He was working on his major title Lepidoptera Indica at the time of his death; six volumes were published after his death and a further four have been published since, written by Col. C. Swinhoe.

The illustrations for The Lepidoptera of Ceylon are by two Singhalese artists, the brothers William and George de Alwis who worked as botanical artists at the Botanical Garden at Peradeniya. The Director of the Botanical Garden, G. H. K. Thwaites, was greatly impressed by William de Alwis’ botanical drawings and recommended to Sir W. H. Gregory, the Governor of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) that William should undertake a project to draw from nature the butterflies and moths of Ceylon. Thwaites supervised the drawings, many of which were illustrations of specimens he had collected himself. George de Alwis was also employed to copy some of the drawings already made and to prepare new ones.

The brothers’ drawings were, according to the Natural History Museum which owns the De Alwis Drawings Collection “considered to be of such accuracy that they were used by a number of authors publishing on the lepidoptera of Ceylon”. The 71 original watercolour drawings “depict with great accuracy the adult butterflies and moths, their larvae and pupae and occasionally associated food plants”. The drawings were lithographed and reproduced as colour plates in this book by Moore. The Balfour & Newton Libraries’ copy of this work was donated by the Governor of Ceylon.

Sources:

Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (1907-08): 56.

W. L. Distant. The Zoologist (4) (1907) 11: 239.

Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine (1907) 43: 162.

King’s College London libraries, Special Collections Online Exhibition: From the four corners of the earth.

Natural History Museum Online Exhibition: Art themes

February 2009

Gould plateThe rare book on display from our collection is: The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin, naturalist to the expedition. Part III. Birds, described by John Gould, with a notice of their habits and ranges, by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co.; 1841.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.8 (7)

The book is open at: Plate 7: Pyrocephalus nanus, a Tyrant Flycatcher. The pair of flycatchers perch on a branch: the bright scarlet male reaches for a spider that hangs from its thread while the pale brown female looks on. The beauty and quality of Gould’s hand-coloured plate is evident here. This species lives in the Galapagos Archipelago (except San Cristóbal).

John Gould (1804-1881) was an English ornithologist and publisher. Gould did not paint the final illustrations in this or subsequent works himself, but he collected the specimens, classified them, made rough drawings, wrote the text and designed and arranged the birds naturally on the plates, which was his distinctive genius.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) returned from his voyage on HMS Beagle in the autumn of 1836. Darwin selected several scientists to describe his collected specimens, and Gould was presented with the birds. In January 1837 Gould pronounced a group of twelve birds from the Galápagos Islands, which Darwin thought to be ‘blackbirds, warblers, wrens and finches’, as all one family of finches, with variations in their beaks and size. This was the crucial piece of evidence that enabled Darwin to come to his theory of island speciation. Gould contributed to this ‘bird’ volume of Darwin’s Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle.

Sources:

John Gould (1804-1881):doi:10.109/ref:odnb/11154

IBC: The Internet Bird Collection http://ibc.lynxeds.com/

October 2008

Lear plateThe rare book on display from our collection is: Tortoises, terrapins, and turtles drawn from life, by James de Carle Sowerby and Edward Lear. London, Paris and Frankfort: Henry Sotheran, Joseph Baer & Co.; 1872.

Balfour Library shelf mark: qWN (1)

The book is open at: Plate 27 Emys Spinosa. Bell. (Young). This plate contains two amazingly fine, detailed lithographs of a young spiny turtle from the Emydidae family of turtles. The turtle has been given some real character in its depiction. Emydidae bask on land but enter slow-moving water to feed, and are mainly carnivorous. Usually there is no reduction of the shell, and the limbs are flattened with webbed, clawed toes. There are about 80 species, distributed widely in temperate zones, except southern Africa and Australia.

The plates in this book were lithographed by Edward Lear (1812-1888), a landscape painter and writer now chiefly remembered for his nonsense verse. He was the most accomplished lithographer of his time and contributed illustrations to many natural history volumes.

This book is being displayed in association with the Museum of Zoology’s event 'The Quangle Wangle’s Hat', a free, artist-led drawing activity inspired by the words and pictures of Edward Lear, on Tuesday 28th October. The event has been organised as part of the Campaign for Drawing’s Big Draw 2008, see www.thebigdraw.org.uk.

Sources:

Allaby, Michael (ed.). The concise Oxford dictionary of zoology, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1999.

Glasgow University Library Special Collections Department, Book of the Month, September 2007. James de Carle Sowerby & Edward Lear: Tortoises, terrapins and turtles. London: 1872. Sp Coll e80. http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/sept2007.html

Vivien Noakes, ‘Lear, Edward (1812-1888)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16247, accessed 10 Oct 2008]

 

Current exhibitions

 

Past exhibitions

Catesby : Watercolours from the Royal Collection, 6th July - 12th October 2013

The Balfour Library is pleased to have loaned a book from its special collections for exhibition at Gainsborough's House, the museum and birthplace of 18th century landscape and portrait artist Thomas Gainsborough, in Sudbury, Suffolk.

It has loaned its 1st edition copy of volume 1 of Mark Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas, 1731. Shelfmark: Folio (275).

The exhibition 'Catesby: Watercolours from the Royal Collection' celebrates the life and works of East Anglian naturalist and artist Mark Catesby, who spent his childhood in Sudbury and travelled to North America to produce the first detailed study of the flora and fauna of the 'New World'.

The watercolours from the Royal Collection are original studies for the plates in the book, and the volume will be on display alongside them, so you can compare a watercolour with its final plate.

Please see the Gainsborough’s House website for more information: http://www.gainsborough.org/

Please see the related blog post here: http://www.balfourlibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/rare-book-on-loan-for-exhibition-at_30.html

Darwin: Beetles, Finches, Barnacles, March 2008 - June 2013

The Balfour & Newton Libraries lent some of their books to the University Museum of Zoology Cambridge for their exhibition Darwin: Beetles, Finches, Barnacles from 24 March 2008 onwards.

Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts, 16th June - 4th October 2009

The Balfour & Newton Libraries loaned one of their books to the Fitzwilliam Museum for their exhibition Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts. The book is Gerald H. Thayer's Concealing-ColoraThayer platetion in the Animal Kingdom, 1909. The exhibition was held first at the Yale Center for British Art from 12th February 2009 until 3rd May 2009. Visit the exhibition website at http://www.darwinendlessforms.org/home.html for more information on this ground-breaking exhibition that explores the impact of Darwin's theories on late nineteenth century artists.

A stencilled piece of card illustrating dried leaves covers plate xi of Thayer's work and reveals the shape of the copperhead snake when you lift it up. The overall effect demonstrates the camouflage properties of the snake. An image of this is featured on page 114, Fig. 117, in the exhibition catalogue Endless forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts, edited by Diana Donald and Jane Munro. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT: in association with Yale University Press; 2009. Balfour Library shelf mark: qFY (8).

 

Credits

Gould storkImages of items from our Special Collections have been reproduced and acknowledged in several publications:

François Le Vaillant and the birds of Africa, by L.C. Rookmaaker ... [et al.] ; translator, F.M. Webb. Johannesburg : Brenthurst Press; 2004. Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ .6 (49).

Christopher Webb-Smith: an artist at the Cape of Good Hope, 1837-1839, by A. Gordon-Brown. Cape Town: H. Timmins; 1965. Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.6 (47).

Endless forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts, edited by Diana Donald and Jane Munro. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT: in association with Yale University Press; 2009. Balfour Library shelf mark: qFY (8). See http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Endless_Forms/9780300148268

From Merchants to Emperors: British Artists in India, 1757-1930, by Pratapaditya Pal and Vidya Dehejia. Cornell University Press; 1987.

The Great Auk, by Errol Fuller. 1999.

A history of ornithology, by Peter Bircham. London : Collins; 2007. Balfour Library shelf mark: K (226). See http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/A_History_of_Ornithology/9780007199709

John Gould in Australia: letters and drawings, by Ann Datta. Melbourne University Press; 1997. See http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/John_Gould_in_Australia/9780522847802

Life and works: Charles Michell, by G. Richings. Fernwood Press (Pty) Limited, South Africa; 2006. See http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Life_and_Works/9781874950813

Making Visible Embryos virtual exhibition created by staff from the University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science, at http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/visibleembryos/

Splendid plumage: Indian birds by British artists, by Jagmohan Mahajan; with descriptions of birds by Bikram Grewal. Hong Kong: Local Colour Limited; 1965. Balfour Library shelf mark: qKZ.54 (1).

Willughby's angel: the pintailed sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata), by Isabelle Charmantier and T. R. Birkhead. J. Ornithol. (2008) 149: 469-472. Three of our rare books feature in this article: Gessner's Historiae animalium liber III qui est de avium natura (1555), Charleton's Gualteri charletoni exercitationes de differentiis & nominibus animalium (1677), and Aldrovandi's Ornithologiae, tomus tertius (1603). Members of the University of Cambridge can download the article from http://www.springerlink.com/content/427023132k38p788/?p=c108f141fca94000a9d395b4d93c4546&pi=17

The wisdom of birds: an illustrated history of ornithology, by Tim R. Birkhead. London: Bloomsbury; 2008. ISBN 9780747592563. Hardback. £25. Balfour Library shelfmark: K (227). This book features many photographs taken of bird illustrations from books in our Special Collections. It was The Guardian's 'Book of the week' on Saturday October 18th 2008. You can read their review at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/oct/18/tim-birkhead-ornithology and see http://wisdomofbirds.co.uk/ or http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/The_Wisdom_of_Birds/9780747592563 for more details.

 

Use of the collections

See our Admissions page for details of admissions requirements and the Library Rules and Opening hours pages for guidance on the use of the library and its special collections.

 

Balfour Library Conservation Project: Cleaning the collections

volunteersA wonderful team of five NADFAS (National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies) Heritage Volunteers has cleaned our rare books. They started in July 2011 and completed the project in September 2013.

Clair Castle, Librarian at the time, wrote an article all about the project and the progress made so far for the NADFAS Review Volunteers Supplement which was published on 25th May 2012. Read the article online in the NADFAS Review e-zine Volunteering Supplement Summer 2012 (pp. 16-17).

Clair has also blogged about the project on the Balfour Library News Blog at http://www.balfourlibrary.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/cleaning.