The Aurelian Legacy: British Butterflies and their Collectors

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9780520229631: The Aurelian Legacy: British Butterflies and their Collectors

This entertaining and informative book traces the history of butterfly collection in Britain from the seventeenth century, when the study of natural history had its beginnings. Our knowledge of butterflies is the result of four hundred years of collection and study. However, butterfly collecting is a controversial subject today, and given the present state of butterfly populations, indiscriminate gathering of specimens can no longer be justified.

In addition to giving a history of butterfly collecting in Britain, this beautifully illustrated volume describes the equipment used and gives brief biographies of 101 deceased lepidopterists. The book is generously laced with anecdotes and quotations, and includes many contemporary monochrome portraits, accounts of selected species of historical interest, and an appraisal of the effects of collecting and of current conservation policies. Appendixes list all the British and Irish butterflies with their earlier, often confusing, and sometimes fanciful vernacular names, and provide a chronological account of entomological societies, publications, and significant events in the canon of British entomology.

The Aurelian Legacy is a fascinating account of the men and women who have made valuable contributions to our knowledge of British butterflies and of their early and often complex history. It is not only a good read but also an excellent reference source for current and future lepidopterists as well as social historians.

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Review:

Although it has pained some professionals to admit it, gifted amateurs have done much to advance the cause of science. Perhaps nowhere is this more true, English physician Michael Salmon writes, than in the field of lepidopterology.

The figure of the eccentric butterfly collector is a staple of British comedy, and indeed, as Salmon shows, many early collectors offered easy targets as the very definition of eccentricity. Over the years, more and more ordinary men and women came to share their passion for nature study, so that, by Victorian times, households throughout Britain "boasted a cabinet of shells, butterflies, or fossils, together with a series of George Routledge's shilling volumes on natural history, or a book of newspaper cuttings from the weekly 'nature' column." By the late 19th century, the fields and woods were crowded with collectors, so many that the numbers of butterfly species like the Large Blue, Black-veined White, and Large Tortoiseshell were considerably thinned. (They and many other species are now extinct or nearly so, Salmon writes, though not through the fault of collectors.) Some collectors were indeed mere hobbyists, but field notes and reports by amateurs formed an essential record for more formal scientific descriptions of range, behavior, and other aspects of lepidopteran natural history.

In a series of essays, Salmon offers a history of butterfly collecting in Britain, describes some 35 species of particular historical or biological interest (including the wayward North American monarch and the remarkable Camberwell Beauty, "the Holy Grail of British butterfly collectors"), and profiles more than a hundred prominent "Aurelians," or butterfly collectors, from 1550 to the present. His handsomely illustrated book, brimming with lore and trivia on such matters as the first recorded use of the butterfly net and the origin of butterfly names in English, makes lively reading--and an ideal gift--for Aurelians today. --Gregory McNamee

From the Inside Flap:

"A unique historical record. . . . No other book exists which covers this material."—Thomas C. Emmel, illustrator of An Introduction to Ecology and Population Biology

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Book Description University of North Carolina, USA, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. New Book - Sealed in original shrinkwrap.Thoroughly researched , highly informative and enjoyable book. history of butterfly collecting in Britain and includes the equipment used; brief biographies of 101 deceased lepidopterists, generously laced with anedcotes and quotations and many contemporary monochrome portraits, accounts of.'. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 000724

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This entertaining and informative book traces the history of butterfly collection in Britain from the seventeenth century, when the study of natural history had its beginnings. Our knowledge of butterflies is the result of four hundred years of collection and study. However, butterfly collecting is a controversial subject today, and given the present state of butterfly populations, indiscriminate gathering of specimens can no longer be justified. In addition to giving a history of butterfly collecting in Britain, this beautifully illustrated volume describes the equipment used and gives brief biographies of 101 deceased lepidopterists. The book is generously laced with anecdotes and quotations, and includes many contemporary monochrome portraits, accounts of selected species of historical interest, and an appraisal of the effects of collecting and of current conservation policies. Appendixes list all the British and Irish butterflies with their earlier, often confusing, and sometimes fanciful vernacular names, and provide a chronological account of entomological societies, publications, and significant events in the canon of British entomology. The Aurelian Legacy is a fascinating account of the men and women who have made valuable contributions to our knowledge of British butterflies and of their early and often complex history. It is not only a good read but also an excellent reference source for current and future lepidopterists as well as social historians. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780520229631

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Book Description University of California Press, Berkeley, 2000. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New Dust Jacket. Still in publisher's shrinkwrap. Published at $35.00. Large, heavy book. [dn r] Size: Oversize. Bookseller Inventory # 400430

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