Animals of India by Samuel Richard Tickell. 1864

by Ann Sylph on

ZSL Library contains handwritten and illustrated manuscripts of artist Samuel Richard Tickell (1809- 1875) There are 14 volumes, one volume on mammals, one about fish, one devoted to reptiles, crustaceans and insects, the other 11 volumes are devoted to birds.The volumes  have been digitised and the scans can be accessed via our online catalogue so now they can be viewed and used around the world for both research and enjoyment.

A drawing of a blue and red gecko
Platydactylus gecko in Tickell manuscripts

Tickell served with British army in India and Burma, rising to the rank of Colonel, and devoted his spare time to painting and describing the fauna of the places where he was stationed. He joined the 31st Bengal Native Infantry in 1829 and served in the Kol campaign of 1832-33. c1843 he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Chota Nagpur on the south-west frontier of Bengal. From 1847-1865 he was Assistant Commissioner and later Commissioner in Arakan and Burma.

Tickell retired in 1865 and went to live in France and the Channel Islands. He lost the sight of one eye in 1870 and then the other one. He died at Cheltenham in April 1875. Tickell's scientific work on the fauna of the Indian sub-continent was published in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. His first published paper `List of the birds of Borabhum and Dholbum’ was published in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1833.  He described many new bird species.

After retirement to England, Tickell was a regular contributor on Indian gamebirds and wildfowl to The Field magazine in which he wrote under the pseudonyms 'Ornithognomon' and when writing about sport and natural history he signed himself 'Old Log'. He was an excellent field naturalist and these beautifully presented manuscripts contain Tickell's observations done on the spot but often with reference to others working in the same field, such as Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal, Cantor in India and SE Asia and Edward Blyth in Calcutta. 

Pangolin drawing, side view
Pangolin, Manis javanica, in Tickell manuscripts

Tickell was Honorary Fellow of ZSL. He was related to Brian Houghton Hodgson through marriage. His sister married William Hodgson, Brian’s brother. Tickell was commander of Hodgson’s military escort to Kathmandu from 1834. He visited Hodgson for 8 months in 1840, leaving early 1841. Tickell influenced the artists employed by Hodgson. Both Tickell and Hodgson presented their manuscripts to ZSL in 1874. Find out more about Hodgson, his work in Nepal and India as well as information about his manuscripts -  on our microsite about Hodgson.

Sawfish drawing
Sawfish, Pristis pectinatus, drawing in Tickell manuscript

Use the ID numbers below to access the scans in our online catalogue Enter the appropriate id number into the search field. Each volume has been split into several pdf files as they are so large.

Mammals ID number ART10000588

Fishes ID number ART10000589 

Reptilia, Crustacea and Lepidoptera ID number ART10000590 

Indian ornithology (7 volumes) ID number ART10000591 

Aves [Birds] ID number ART10000596 


Drawing of owl perched on a branch
Bubo umbrata, owl drawing in Tickell manuscripts, Aves Vol. X

As we are celebrating the opening of a new gibbon enclosure at ZSL London Zoo and the return of the northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) as well as ZSL’s work to conserve the Hainan gibbon (Nomascus hainanus) I had to end this blog with a beautiful image of gibbons in Tickell’s volume on mammals.

Drawing of two adult white-handed gibbons with young
Drawing of white-handed gibbon, Hylobates lar, in Tickell manuscripts

Thanks to Ann Datta, our Volunteer Art Cataloguer, for providing information towards this blog.

The relationship between Hodgson and Tickell is discussed in Charles Allen’s book The prisoner of Kathmandu, London : Haus, 2015 and more about Tickell can be fouund in A land of their own : Samuel Richard Tickell and the Formation of the Autonomous Ho Country in Jharkhand 1818-1842 : the historians' edition by Paul Streumer, Houten : Wakkaman, 2016

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