Site Administration The College of William and Mary
W & M HOME

From Special Collections Research Center
Beautiful books

Some books are not only rare, they are beautiful. A good example in the rare books collection of the Special Collections Research Center is The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies, together with the Plants on Which They Feed (London, 1766) by Moses Harris.

Like some other rich Londoners, Moses Harris (1731?-1785?) collected insects. Entomology was a popular pastime in an era in which new exciting specimens could come in from the British colonies. He produced The Aurelian, which was first published in 1766 and reprinted in an updated version by John Obadiah Westwood in 1840. There were charges of plagiarism of the work of Jacob L'Admiral against Harris, whom Westwood defended in the reprint.

There were three Aurelian societies, the first founded in 1745. It fell apart after its library and records were burned. A second organization was formed in 1762 and a third lasted from 1801-1806. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Entomologists_of_London.

The tie-in of The Aurelian with the College of William and Mary is that one of the plates in the book is dedicated to our very own Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt.

Another set of beautiful volumes in the Special Collections Research Center is Curtis's Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-garden Displayed. The illustrations from Curtis’s Botanical have been made available by the National Agricultural Library, a part of the United States Department of Agriculture at http://www.nal.usda.gov/curtis/.

See more Notes

© 2014 The College of William & Mary