Surprisingly no one seems to have this book on American butterfly collectors . I want to know more about one of Americas finest collectors Mr Doherty, so I have just ordered the book from across the pond. When I have read it, I will review this volume here.
I must say this is a fascinating and informative read about American lepidoptersts and how they came to know their lepidoptera fauna and the worlds butterflies. All the 19th century American greats are here, including William Henry Edwards, Herman Streckler, Samuel Scudder and Augustus Grote. Their huge collections, their magnificent illustrated books, their friendships and bitter feuds all leap from the pages and make this book a lively encounter with the butterfly people that ruled their world. Enter the great German lepidopterist Otto Staudinger who supplied many of the early American lepidopterists with what was then termed the exotics. Herbert and Daisy Smith made important collections in South & Central America and Will Doherty traveled the world collecting specimens for the rich and famous. Doherty was so successful that he could have sold his specimens many times over, everyone wanted to know him and his butterflies. Doherty was a strange mix of greatest tinged by illness and paranoia, certainly one of the toughest people to ever weld a net. William Leach the author, himself a former butterfly collector and now a historian has spent years researching this book and this shines through the pages . His easy going style is a joy to read. One of the best butterfly books in a long time and the best I have read for a long while.
I got this book a few months ago and really enjoyed it. My favorite part was learning that I am related to Scudder, though probably not directly. In the book, it mentioned that Scudder was related to Alexander Graham Bell, who is my grandmother's great great uncle! Scudder's middle name, Hubbard, is my grandmother's maiden name, so there is also some connection there, although I am not sure what it is yet.
I just read this book and was going to start a thread on it. I will put my rivew here instead. It is about the first people to collect, identify and study butterflies of the US in the 1800s. Some info given on other counties. The book is mostly about personalites of butterfly people and if they liked other butterfly people or if they hated other butterfly people and their persinal lives. About who made the first butterfly books or other publications and who illustrated the books. Sadly not much info on the butterfly hunts and what was collected ware or when. Only a hand full of species discused near this way such as the Arctic found on Mount Washington. A few Exsiting things to learn was how common butterflies were befor folks ditroiyed this land. Willlam Henry Edwerds Was Walking around his property and said the following "one April morning up Paint Creek he saw myriads of blues, jewel like insects andcaught hundredsin a single arc of the net. Then ext April, he watched countless female Zebra Swallowtailes flying through the woods as hundreeds of checkerspots swaarmed around his feet; a year later, in May,troops of butterflies massed on the wet sandy pathways , forming a sprrawling patchwork of color. And then on one early June day in late 1870s, heinspected a giant rock slab near the woods moistened by the drippings from a coal seam over it and studded with papilios as thik as they could stand. Allowing one Squar in to each Butterfly, and this is ample, there were upwards of tow - thousand butterflies in that mass. " This is wwhat I wish the book had been more about. the observations of what the butterfly People saw and not thier persinal lives. I wonder about that Ausom sounding Paint Creek area? Are the butterflies still there? Do they still paint that trail like a rainbow? Dos any one out there Know? The color plates in the book are wonderful and very specal sence not many books are illistated that way any more. A reprint by Dover of color plates called 600 Butterflies and Moths is now a teasure to have. The plates are panted the old way are from the old book from 1882 by Cosseli Peter and Gaalpin of european Leps. Time running sort all I can say now.