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Aurelian Legacy - A History of British Butterflies and Their Collectors: With Contributions by Peter Marren and Basil Harley [Hardcover]

Michael A. Salmon , Peter Marren , Basil Harley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 30.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Aurelian Legacy - A History of British Butterflies and Their Collectors: With Contributions by Peter Marren and Basil Harley + Butterflies + Philip's Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harley Books; 1st edition (1 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0946589402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0946589401
  • Product Dimensions: 27.6 x 21.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This history of British butterflies is combined with a history of their collectors, without whose activities our knowledge of the identification, occurrence, distribution and variation would be much poorer. Liberally laced with contemporary quotations, and containing brief biographies and photographic portraits of about 100 early lepidopterists and their equipment, the volume presents 200 years of butterfly study, including the work of members of the Aurelian Society, founded in the early-18th century. Appendixes provide lists of the entomological societies, journals and transactions, and the collectors themselves, together with a check list of the British and Irish butterflies.

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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This well researched book offers a fascinating view of a time when butterflies were pleantiful and collectors more readily tolerated. Ultimately, it is depressing in part I suppose, to read how the countryside has changed since the likes of Tutt, Frohawk and Newman contributed to our knowledge of our butterflies. The book gives a balanced view of the supposed harmful effects of collecting, and confirms that loss of habitat has been, and continues to be, of much greater significance. Since its publication, my 1st edition of Higgins and Riley was my most read Field Guide, but only now do I know more about these gentlemen than the endpaper of their guide. There are many celebrated people here, the very rich, the professional and the dedicated amateur; all united by a love of our most colourful insects (and some would say a love of luxuriant facial hair in many cases!)
I would recommend this book to all enthusiasts of Natural History, particulary anyone with an interest in butterflies, however slight. In addition to biographical detail of individual entomologists, it describes the history of many of the butterflies themselves.
I can see myself referring back to this book for many years to come, both for reference and for light reading about golden summer days long distant. I have often suspected that I was born 100 years too late, in these pages there is at least the opportunity to imagine what life was like!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HISTORY, NATURAL, SOCIAL 5 April 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a first rate book. If you have a passion for the natural history of British Butterflies tis book will feed it. If your passion is social history then this will equally meet your needs. The prints are excellent and the feel of the book is worth the price alone. I recommend this volume to any one that loves British natural history. FIVE STAR IN EVERYWAY.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly Minds 17 Oct 2011
"A volume of this kind has been awaited with impatience for decades, for we have all longed to know the history of the bug hunters...And here it is at last." This introduction by Miriam Rothschild rather gives away the fact that this handsome history book is written for a pretty limited audience.(Unless we take her at her word and assume that "all" of the reading public have been awaiting a book on British Butterfly collectors.)

The bulk of the book is a collection of 101 short biographies of British lepidopterists, commemorating naturalists from over 300 years. The other long chapter, "Some Species of Historical Interest" more or less duplicates the information in the biographies, but told with the emphasis on the discoveries rather than the discoverers.

Taken in whole, this is is an interesting overview
of changing persectives in the study of Nature, and butterflies in particular, through history. It is full of individual stories, from frauds and fakes to new species discoveries.

Other sections of the book deal with collecting and conservation. Salmon is, very unfashionably, supportive of the right of the serious naturalist to collect specimens. This is well argued but I find this a difficult position to sympathise with. The sheer numbers quoted of butterflies collected by the Victorian and Edwardian hunters is depressing, the photos of the massed ranks of Large Blues (p303) and Large Coppers (p283) captured and killed, now extinct in Britain, are horrible.

Of course, it is not necessary to agree with an author totally to appreciate his work. And this is a serious and valuable book. Well illustrated and authoratative.
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