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FROM 1856 TO 1895


Formerly Keeper of the Department of Zoology





DULAU & Co., LTD., 37, SOHO SQUARE, W. ;



(All rights reserved)





FOB the preparation of this Appendix to Volume II. of the
" History of the Collections " the Trustees of the British Museum
are indebted to Dr. A. Giinther, F.R.S., formerly Keeper of the
Department of Zoology. It is a valuable record of the develop-
ment of the zoological section of the British Museum from the
year 1856 to the year 1895, when Dr. Giinther retired from
the service of the Trustees. Before 1856 the zoological section
had been, for the purposes of administration, the zoological
"Branch" of the "Natural History Department" of the
British Museum.

The Index has been made by Mr. G. J. Arrow, Assistant in
the Department of Zoology.




June 22nd, 1912.




Study-series and Exhibition-series ....... 2

Condition and Location of the Collection in 1856 .... 2

Exhibition-series ......... 2

Study-series .......... 4

Mammalia and Osteological Collections .... 4

Birds 4

Reptiles, Batrachians and Fishes 5

Mollusca .....-.- 5

Polyzoa and Crustacea ....... G

Arachnida, Myriopoda, Xiphosura . . . 7

Insects 7

Other Invertebrates ........ 8

Staff of the Department ......... 9

Permanent Staff 9

(Dr. J. E. Gray Mr. G. R. Gray Mr. A. White Mr. F.
Smith Dr. W. Baird E. Gerrard J. Saunders.)

Auxiliary Staff ' . . . .10

Lists and Catalogues ......... H

Growth of the Collection 13

(CoUection of East India Company J. K. Lord B. H. Hodgson

Collection Sources of information.)

Grants for annual expenditure 15

Condition of the Collection 16

(Osteological Collection of Mammals Snakes Fishes Shells.)

Staff of the Department 17

(Dr. A. Gunther Mr. A. G. Butler Mr. A. W. E. O'Shaughnessy
Mr. C. O. Waterhouse Mr. E. A. Smith.)

Lists and Catalogues . . . . . . . . .18

Growth of the Collection 18

(Bowring Collection Cuming Collection.)

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 2J


Changes in the Staff 22

(Dr. Gray's illness Assistant Keepers Death of Dr. Baird and
Mr. G. R. Gray Mr. E. J. Miers and Mr. R. B. Sharpe.)

Arrangement of the Collection ....... 22

(BuprestidcB Mr. Butler commences Moths.)

vi Contents.


Lists and Catalogues .24

(Catalogues of Chiroptera and Birds.)

Growth of the Collection . .26

(Wallace Collection of Birds Beddome Collection of Indian
Eeptiles Ceratodus Mrs. Gray's Collection of Shells
Moggridge Collection Saunders Collection of Buprestidse
Brenchley Collection Mr. Blanford's Persian Collection.)
Grants for annual expenditure ....... 29

The New Museum .......... 29


Arrangement of the Collection 30

(Exhibition of British Nesting Birds" Transit of Venus " Col-
lections Dr. Briiggemann's work on Corals Mr. Carter's
work on Sponges.)
Catalogues ........... 33

(Catalogue of Birds Mr. Busk's Catalogue of Polyzoa Illustra-
tions of types of Lepidoptera Heterocera.)

Staff 34

(Mr. 0. Thomas Mr. S. 0. Ridley Mr. F. J. Bell.)

Growth of the Collection 35

(" Transit of Venus " Collection Arctic Expedition Collection
Goodenough Collection Galapagos Collection Wel-
witsch Collection Godman and Salvin Collection of Eggs
Mr. R. T. Lowe's Collection of Shells First Challenger
Collection Bowerbank Collection of Sponges.)
Grants for annual expenditure ....... 38

The New Museum 38

(Cetacean Room The Northern Galleries Spirit Building-
Mammalian Galleries Furniture and Fittings Zoological


Changes in the Staff 41

(Death of Mr. F. Smith and Mr. A. W. E. O'Shaughnessy

Mr. W. F. Kirby.)
Arrangement of the Collection ....... 42

Catalogues 43

Growth of the Collection 44

(Collection of East India Company Challenger Collections
Gould Collection Exhibition of Humming Birds Godman
and Salvin Collection of Old- World Birds Hewitson
Collection Grote Collection Baly Collection F. Bates
Collection F. Smith Collection.)

Census of the Collections 47

Duplicates ........... 47

Students and Visitors 48

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 49

The New Museum . . .49

Departmental Library ......... 50

Contents. vii



Additions to the Staff 51

(Mr. G. A. Boulenger, Mr. W. R. Ogilvie-Grant, Mr. J. J. Quelch

Duties of Attendants.)
Arrangement and Catalogues ........ 52

Growth of the Collection 52

(Collection of Batrachians International Fisheries Exhibition
Zeller CoUection of Lepidoptera Mr. J. Abbot's and
General Hardwicke's drawings.)

Duplicates 54

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 55

Departmental Library ......... 55

(Temporary employment of Mr. J. E. Harting.)

(1882 84.)

The Removal. .......... 55

Rearrangement .......... 57

Osteological Gallery and Cetacean Room ..... 57

Mammalian Gallery. ........ 58

Bird Gallery and Bird Room 58

Reptile Gallery and Fish Gallery 59

Shell Gallery, Insect Gallery and Starfish Gallery ... 60

Coral Gallery, British Room and Insect Room .... 61

Spirit Building 62

Zoological Library, &c. . . . . . . .62

1884 85

Guides and Catalogues 63

(Alert Report.)
Growth of the CoUection 64

(Hume Collection of Birds Godman and Salvin Collection of

the Birds of Central America.)
Addition to the Staff 66

(Mr. R. I. Pocock.)
Grants for annual expenditure ....... 66

Students 66


Arrangement of the Collection ....... 67


Staff ... 68

(Mr. C. J. Gahan, Mr. R. Kirkpatrick.)

Growth of the Collection 69

(Sir J. Murray's Collection of the Scotch marine Fauna
Tweeddale Collection of Birds and Library Increase of
Collection of Lizards Walsingham Collection of Larvae of
British Lepidoptera Godman and Salvin Collection of
Central American Coleoptera.)

viii Contents.


Catalogues, Guides and Descriptive Papers ..... 71

Departmental Library ......... 72

Duplicates . . . . ' 73

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 73

Students . 73


Inadequacy of Space and Staff ....... 73

(Increase cannot be cbecked.)
Additions to the Staff .75

(Mr. F. A. Heron and Mr. E. E. Austen.)
Growth of the Collection .75

(Challenger Collections (continued) Mr. Godmaii's donation of
North American Birds Riocour Collection Day Collection
of Fishes and Crustaceans Turton Collection of Shells
Hampson Collection of Nilgiri Lepidoptera.)
Arrangement of the Collection . . . . . . .76

(Mr. Thomas' Catalogue of Marsupialia, etc.)

Guides and Catalogues 77

Duplicates ........... 77

Grants for annual expenditure ........ 77

Students 78


Arrangement of the Collection ....... 78

(Auxiliary Workers.)
Catalogues ........... 78

Growth of the Collection 78

(Challenger duplicates Keyserling Collection of Arachnida
Frey Collection of Lepidoptera Baly Collection of Coleop-
tera Mr. Carter's Collection of Fresh-water Sponges.)

Duplicates 80

Grants for the year 80

Students . 81

^ *-


Supplementary buildings ........ 81

(Iron shed for Whales.)
Arrangement of the Collection . . . . . . .82

(Arrangement of Birds' Eggs New edition of Catalogue of
Fishes List of Entomological types Professor Parker's

Catalogues 83

(Instructions for collecting.)

Growth of the CoUection 84

(Hume Collection of Heads and Horns Dr. Blanford's Indian
Mammals Mr. Littledale's Caucasian Collection Dr.
Anderson's Egyptian Mammals Whale skeletons Godman

Contents. ix


and Salvin Collection of Central American Birds and Beetles
(continued) Gorham Collection of Endomychidae Moore
Collection of Indian Lepidoptera Green Collection of
Ceylonese Moths Atkinson and Watson Collections of
Indian Insects Amber Collection Parker Collection of

Duplicates 86

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 86

Students 86


The Spirit Building enlarged ........ 87

(Death of Mr. G. Brook.)
Arrangement of the Collection ....... 87

Guides, Catalogues and Descriptive Papers ..... 88

(Catalogue of Snakes and of Madreporaria.)

Growth of the Collection . . . 89

(Pascoe Collection Stainton Collection J. J. Walker and P. W.
Bassett-Smith Collection Sir H. H. Johnston's Collection
from Nyassa Dr. J. W. Gregory's Collection from Central
Africa Godman and Salvin Collection of Central American
Birds (continued) Morelet Collection of Shells.)

Duplicates 91

Grants for the year . . . . . . . . .91

Students 91


Arrangement of the Collection ...... 91

(Iron shed for Cetaceans Gates Collection of Arachnida Noo-

tuidse Mr. G. F. Hampson Mr. H. M. Bernard.)
Catalogues ........... 95

Growth of the Collection 95

(Shelley and Godwin-Austen Collection of African and Indian
Birds Moore Collection of Indian Lepidoptera Godman
and Salvin Collection of Central American Insects (con-
tinued) SaviUe-Kent Collection of Australian Corals.)

Census of the Collection 97

Duplicates 97

Departmental Library .... .... 97

Grants for annual expenditure ....... 98

Students 98

INDEX . . 99


The year 1856, in which the " Zoological branch of the
Natural History Department" became a separate Department,
marks the commencement of a new era in its development
under Dr. Gray's Keepership. In the sixteen years during
which he had held this office, these collections had made such
progress, as regards growth and arrangement, that the British
Museum could well hold its own in a comparison with the most
renowned and older institutions of the Continent. These latter
may have excelled in one or more respects, such as the fuller
representation of certain faunas or orders of animals, or the
possession of the original material on which the older standard
works were based ; but the riches of the British Museum were
more evenly distributed over the whole range of the animal
kingdom, and, as far as the Indian and Australian Faunas were
concerned, the British Museum was, of course, facile princeps.
Donations always formed a large, generally the larger, proportion
of the annual increase of the collections, and as, for obvious
reasons, Birds, Shells, Insects especially Lepidoptera and
Coleoptera were the groups most popular with collectors, they
invariably preponderated. The reception of an annual separate
grant of money for purchases greatly assisted in regulating this
uneven increase : compared with more recent years, this grant
must be regarded as very liberal; from 1837-46 it averaged
about .1100 per annum, and rose to 1500 about the period
under consideration. The selection of the purchases offered
during the year was left entirely to the judgment of the Keeper
(subject to the sanction by the Trustees), and he was thus en-
abled to direct the main expenditure temporarily to any branch
of the collections which most needed it, effecting thereby greater
uniformity in their growth.

The divergence in the use of the collections by the general
public, and by the select class of students, was indicated already
in Sir Hans Sloane's will when he directed that his collection
should " be maintained, not only for the inspection and entertain-

2 Department of Zoology.

1856-1861. ment of the learned and the curious, but for the use and general
benefit of the public." To attain this twofold object, Dr. Gray
perceived at an early period that it would be desirable to form a
study-series as distinct from the exhibition-series, and in the
Parliamentary Return for 1858, p. 16, he refers to the forma-
tion of both series as being in progress. At the present time one
can hardly realise that he had to carry out so beneficial, indeed,
so necessary, a measure in the face of considerable opposition by
persons who referred to the great Continental Museums, in which,
at that time, every specimen was on exhibition. However, he
had an unanswerable argument in the disproportion of the
magnitude of the zoological collections and the limits of the
space available for exhibition.


The galleries and rooms assigned to the Zoological Depart-
ment for exhibition contained nearly 30,000 superficial square
feet ; all were lighted from the top. They were furnished with
tall cases along the walls, and with table-cases occupying the
centre of the floor.* A saloon and two adjoining rooms, 35 feet
wide and of an aggregate length of 200 ft., were given to the
Mammalia, all of which were exhibited in wall-cases, with the
exception of the largest specimens, which were placed in a central
group on the floor, without any protection. In the table-cases of
these rooms Corals and Sponges were shown. The finest and best-
lit of the galleries, 300 ft. long, was given up to the two most popular
parts of the exhibition, Birds and Shells, the former occupying
about 900 ft. of wall-cases, the latter two rows of table-cases. In
smaller rooms selected series of Insects and other Articulata, and
a number of stuffed Fishes and Reptiles (especially Tortoises) were
exhibited, whilst finally a room, 90 ft. by 25 ft*, was reserved
solely for a representation of the British Fauna.

The majority of specimens of Mammals and Birds were fairly
mounted, in the usual style of the bird-stuffer of the first half of
last century, but there were very few examples of taxidermic art
among them, while the Reptiles and Fishes were scarcely more than
dried skins. All were mounted on light-coloured highly-polished
sycamore stands, the use of which had been adopted by Dr. Gray
after long experience ; they offered the great advantage that they
could be easily kept free from dust or other impurities, while

* See plans attached to the Keport of the Select Committee on the
British Museum, August 10th, 1860.

The Collection in 1856. 3

painted stands, or (still worse) stands imitating rock or soil, 1856-1861.
sooner or later became regular dust-traps. The name of the
animal, the locality where it was obtained, and, if presented, the
name of the donor, were painted by hand on the stand in bold
letters which could be read without difficulty front? a distance.

The guiding principles in the formation of an exhibition-series
as distinct from a study-collection, as well as from a strictly
educational series, were not uniformly followed in the various
divisions. Nor was this possible at that time and under the
conditions then existing, even if they had been fully understood at
the time. Thus the Mammalian cases became unduly crowded ;
examples of large size, for which no room could be found in
store-rooms, were mounted and placed in the galleries, and in
some of the cases even the systematic order had to be abandoned.
Among the Birds, which were relatively liberally provided with
exhibition-space, more specimens had been mounted than were
needed even by an intelligent visitor. The exhibition of Reptiles
and Fishes was defective in every respect. For the collection of
Shells the accommodation was ample, and the series sufficiently
complete and systematically arranged to satisfy, not only the
casual visitor, but also the large class of collectors who pay
frequent visits to the gallery with the object of comparing their
unnamed specimens with those in the Museum. With regard to
Insects, nothing approaching a complete systematic representation
of the higher groups was attempted : a series of showy and
remarkable forms were shown, and when faded by exposure to
light, were replaced by others ; they were arranged in table-cases,
while a considerable number of nidamental structures were placed
in the wall-cases close by. As regards the whole host of " Lower
animals," specimens which happened to be suitable for exhibition
were placed in or on the table-cases, as long as there was space
for them, and, finally, the British collection was very incomplete,
and only occasionally attended to.

In spite of the defects indicated, the collections, as a whole,
impressed not only ordinary visitors, but also experts, as an
imposing exhibition worthy of the Museum of a nation with the
greatest colonial possessions in the world. Its generally orderly
arrangement in well-made cases, the clean and well-preserved
specimens, the richness in scarce and striking types of animal
life, the spacious and well-lighted galleries, were all points in
which this exhibition compared most favourably with other
institutions on the Continent ; and every credit is due to the staff
of the Department, and particularly to its Keeper, for having

4 Department of Zoology.

1856-1861. raised the collection to such a high level in the comparatively
short period of about twenty years. But the exhibition itself
was, or soon became, only a secondary consideration in Dr. Gray's
aims ; the instruction, or rather the amusement (an expression
constantly occurring in the evidence before the Select Committee
of 1860), of the public occupied his care much less than the direct
advancement of science. In the " Guide " which he prepared for
the public he was content with giving very elementary and
fragmentary information, while he concentrated his efforts on the
preparation of nominal or descriptive systematic catalogues, and
in the formation of separate study collections.

The condition of these study-series about this period was as
follows :

1. The unmounted Mammalian skins formed about one-fourth
of the whole collection (mounted and unmounted) ; they were
kept in the basement in rough cupboards, each of which would
hold about two or three skins of animals the size of a donkey,
smaller specimens being arranged on open trays.

.2. Much more extensive and of greater intrinsic value was
the collection of skulls and skeletons ; it was entirely the creation
of Gray, who, without accurate anatomical knowledge, was one
of the first systematists to utilise osteological characters for
distinction of the species and genera of living forms. This
collection occupied a room in the basement, 65 feet by 35
feet, fitted with wall- and table-cases. No ray of the sun ever
penetrated into this locality, and a fire had to be kept in it all
the year round to preserve the bones from damp and mould. No
more unsuitable locality could be imagined for an osteological
collection, yet it was the only room in the building available
for the purpose. Nearly all the skeletons were kept dis-
articulated in boxes, thus requiring but little space, and being
conveniently arranged for study. One or two of the "Cases were
occupied by bones of birds, reptiles, and some fishes. The
whole collection was, from the beginning, in excellent order of
arrangement, the specimens being carefully named and labelled ;
it was throughout under the special care of the chief Attendant
of the Department, Mr. Edward Gerrard, who prepared a nominal
list of the collection in 1862.

3. The collection of Birds was, with regard to numbers, about
equally divided between the mounted and unmounted series.
As in Mammalia, the size of a specimen frequently decided its
reference to either of the 'two series. The skins were kept
in wooden boxes of a convenient size, each being capable of

The Collection in 1856. 5

holding some eighty skins of birds of the size of a sparrow. The 1856-1861.

boxes filled wall-cases in and outside the Ornithologist's room,

and although convenient of access to the Assistant in charge of

the collection, there was scarcely room for a visitor or worker

who wished to consult it. However, it was well arranged and

named, and G. It. Gray had prepared a MS. list, which, however,

was never published.*

4. Reptiles, Batrachians, and Fishes. The bulk of these
collections was preserved in spirit, and kept in three rooms of
the basement, aggregating a length of 110 feet with a width of
17 feet. The bottles were packed on the shelves of high wall-
cases as closely as possible. The conditions of light and tempera-
ture were most suitable for the preservation of the specimens,
but less so for the comfort and health of the persons compelled
to work in that locality, f The Chelonians, Saurians, and part
of the venomous Snakes had been catalogued by Dr. Gray, and
therefore were in orderly arrangement and named, with the
exception of the numerous additions, which soon exceeded the
specimens catalogued. The remainder of the collection was
stowed away without any attempt at arrangement, and although
some historical collections of Fishes, like those of W. Yarrell,
E. Parnell, Sir J. Richardson,^ etc., had been deposited in the
Museum, only a small proportion bore the names given by the
authors. At the beginning of this period (1858) the Reptiles
and Batrachians numbered about 7000, and the Fishes about
16,000 specimens.

5. Exigencies of space rather than the adoption of a distinct
principle led from an early period to the formation of a study-
series in the rapidly growing collection of Mollusca. This series
occupied then, as it does now, the drawers of the table-cases,
in the glazed tops of which were arranged the very liberal
exhibition series. The mode of preservation of the shells was not
satisfactory ; the specimens were gummed on tablets, generally

* His " Handlist " is an enumeration of species, not of specimens.

t One of the numerous springs which in former years supplied many
houses in Bloomsbury with excellent water made its presence below the
floor of the spirit-rooms felt in a very inconvenient manner : the stone-
liags of the floor were at times covered with damp or water, causing the
wood-work at the bottom of the cases to rot, and destroying unfortunately
many of the labels on the bottles a serious injury which had to be
checked by adopting the plan of painting the labels in oil-colours.

J The zoological collection at the Haslar Hospital, which contained
the Fishes of the voyage of the Erebus and Terror, as well as other types,
was transferred to the Museum in 1855; the specimens arrived without
labels and many were in a very bad condition, as for economy's sake a
solution of chloride of zinc had been used instead of alcohol !

6 Department of Zoology.

1856-1861. occupying considerably more space than was justified by the size

of the shells, and exposing the specimens to deterioration by dust

and the gum applied to them ; this mode was abandoned by
Dr. Gray's successor, who introduced the use of glass-topped
boxes of various sizes, but multiples of a certain unit. They are
adapted for specimens of any but very large size, and a great
economy of labour and space was effected by this method. A
very small number, especially Cephalopods and Pteropods, were
preserved in spirit. The whole collection of Mollusca (exhibited
as well as in store for study) may be estimated to have been
about 50,000 in the year 1856.

The general arrangement of the collection was maintained
in a fair state of efficiency, but the naming of the specimens
could not be kept up with their increase in a uniformly
satisfactory manner, especially as Dr. Baird's time was
chiefly occupied in mounting the new arrivals. However,
the acquisition of some important historical collections,
like that made during the voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur,
Webb and Berthelot's from the Canaries, MacAndrew's and
Gwyn Jeffreys' from the Mediterranean and Atlantic Coasts,
Ramon de la Sagra's from Cuba, Chitty's from Jamaica,
D'Orbigny's from South America, Eydoux and Souleyefs from
the voyage of the Bonite, and particularly Gray's systematic
labours on some of the families or on numerous miscellaneous
additions, introduced a large proportion of named specimens into
the collection. Quite a series of small catalogues and lists of
various groups of Mollusca were published by the Trustees under
Gray's authorship, or by his initiative and under his supervision,
between the years 1849 and 1857, but they were unequal as
regards scope and plan, and remained merely fragmentary
attempts at cataloguing the collection.

6. For the arrangement of the Polyzoa Dr. Gray enlisted the

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