Artefact of the month - January 2008
Catalogue of the Specimens and Drawings of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Fishes of Nepal and Tibet, presented by B.H. Hodgson, Esq. to the British Museum. Second Edition 1863. (Annotated by Hodgson).
This was Hodgson's personal copy of the Catalogue and is covered with his additions and corrections.
Hodgson's papers, which he donated to ZSL, have been recently sorted and listed by ZSL Library volunteer Professor Roger Rideout, who writes:
"I am a very recent volunteer, having been a Fellow for about 30 years. My first task was to catalogue the papers in the Library relating to Brian Houghton Hodgson, British Resident in Nepal in the 1840s (until he fell foul of the new Viceroy) and an assiduous collector of birds, mammals and some reptiles native to Nepal. The Library has six folio volumes of magnificent coloured drawings of birds, and two folios of mammals, which Hodgson had hoped to publish.
Several earlier attempts had been made to list some of the contents of the three boxes of Hodgson papers in the Library. These boxes have now been fully catalogued and the contents arranged under five categories: letters, notes and descriptions, articles and papers, lists and one file of notes of dissections. Letters and notes have been sorted and listed by date. In the case of the notes of animals and birds it is thought that this is the easiest means of locating a particular description, Many of the letters are routine administrative matters, but a few are of wider interest containing, for instance, Hodgson’s complaints of appropriation of his discoveries by others.
The Library also has some forty letters written by Joseph Hooker to Hodgson late in 1848 and through 1849 containing detailed accounts of the afflictions suffered by Hooker during a plant collection expedition in Nepal, Bhutan and Sikhim. He 'breathes a sigh of relief' when he leaves the latter. He complains of 'starvation' because his porters do not consider it their duty to provide him with food. Hodgson eventually sends him supplies. This series would form the basis for a very interesting short account of a nineteenth century botanical expedition. These letters were already in date order and have been catalogued with some notes to illustrate a sample of their content."
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