The Study of Slugs; A Unique 19thC Limacology Collection in a Cuban Mahogany Collectors Box


Origin: English
Period: Mid / Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870-90   
The Box:
Depth: 10.25 inches
Width: 14.75 inches
Height: 3.5 inches

Housed in a Cuban mahogany compartmentalised collectors box, is this unusual collection of natural history, a comprehensive zoology ‘study of slugs’, to be sold with the Victorian collectors original notations detailing the compilation in its every aspect.

Overall condition is sound, the labels all remain and the specimens are all present aside from two or three exceptions, whereby the specimens may have been mixed with those of another compartment. The box has some warp to the right flank, where the heat has expanded the mahogany over time. The compartments still contain all the original pink and blue cotton wool.

The box, with brass escutcheon, is crafted from the highest quality Cuban mahogany with plush inner lid and the top tray consists of fourty-eight compartments, whilst the bottom houses nineteen, making for sixty-seven in total, each with hand written labels. These compartments are all meticulously documented with an accompanying hand written key, each one housing a particular species, mirroring the contents which ranges from ‘limax laevis’ form the Agriolimacidae family to ‘anoclonta cygnea’, the swan mussel.

The accompanying five page hand written document’s opening gambit reads; “The study of slugs or limacology, has apparently never been a general one, for although many of the species are undeniably of great beauty, with bright and vivid colouring, frequently variegated, or banded with darker markings, of pleasing arrangement, yet the hunting?? Of these otherwise beautiful animals, is the difficulty of their satisfactory preservation in collections, have always been very serious drawbacks to the popularisation of their study”. The collector goes on to describe in detail the ‘four families into which slugs are divided’, and it is clear the collection is of British origin and content.

This is a truly unique collection that offers a rare insight into not only collecting of natural history in the nineteenth century but also into the world of that rare breed; the Victorian limocologist.