Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Possibly Collected by Anne Lucas Hakewill b.1805
Date: The Specimens Collected from 1849 - 1862
Width: 9 inches
Height: 12 inches
Enclosing one hundred and one individual specimens of seaweed and algae from the British Isles, collected in the middle of the nineteenth century, and bound within a marbled moiré and calf leather covered album. The album is accompanied by an extract from Country Life magazine of 1968 describing the life of ‘remarkable character’ Margaret Gatty, algologist (1809-73), who published the title History of British Seaweeds establishing her as England’s first lady algologist. The album was clearly given as a Christmas gift in 1867, Anne L Hakewill? with all ?? love “Christmas Day 1867”.
The condition of the specimens is largely very good with ninety percent still in tact, having vivid colours, the albums pages with very few tears, though the front cover is loose.
Many of the specimens are captioned with the latin names, the location, and date with which they were found. The many historical locations noted include the Giants Causeway County Antrim, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Bude, Jersey, Guernsey, Plymouth, Torquay, Withernsea, and as far as field as India. Random specimen names include rhodomela subfusca, griffithsia setacea, polysiphonia formosa, olivacea, lomentaria ovalis, gracilaria confervoides, plocamium cartilagineum, callophyllis laciniata and calliblepharis ciliata to name just a handful.
Margaret Gatty was an influential children’s writer and the daughter of the Rev. Alexander John Scott, D.D the trusted friend of Lord Nelson. She became fascinated with marine biology, writing a book on British seaweeds which dejargonised much of which had been written previously on the subject. She corresponded with many of the greatest marine biologists of her day including George Busk and Robert Brown. Margaret Gatty amassed a large collection of marine material, much of which gathered by her correspondents in far flung corners of the British Empire, donated to Weston Park Museum. It is unclear whether this album is at all related to Gatty or those around her but the blatant presence of the magazine extract leads us to believe she is either connected to this collection or is perhaps the muse for it.
Whether collected with, or by Gatty herself, or simply just inspired by her legacy, this is a wonderfully absorbing and enduringly romantic example of an algologists’ collection from the depths of the nineteenth century.