Advertisement Ernst A. Bottcher

Natural history specimen dealers had an important role in the development of science in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. They supplied the rapidly growing, both in size and number, museums and educational establishments and private collectors whose collections, either in entirety or parts finally entered museums. Most sold not just zoological, botanical and geological specimens but also equipment and books. Many also sold archaeological and ethnographic items. They purchased specimens from professional and amateur collectors, sometimes collected themselves as well as acting as agents for the sale of collections. Many were based in mercantile centres notably Amsterdam, Hamburg, and London or in major cities. Some were specialists and some were taxonomic authorities who wrote scientific works and manuals, some functioned as trading museums or institutes.

This is a list of natural history dealers from the 16th to the 19th century: here are names that are frequently encountered in museum collections.

Václav Frič's shop at Wassergasse 736-II in Prague
Mineral collection for schools.Germany.
Mole skeleton supplied by T Gerrard & Co Ltd.
The Field Museum in Chicago. Late entrants United States museums were major purchasers.
The grey trembler. In 1898 a unique skin was discovered in the Liverpool Museum. This specimen was obtained by Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby from bird collector Jules Verreaux in 1850. It was labeled only "Madagascar"

See also


  1. ^ Lynn K. Nyhart "Civic and economic zoology in nineteenth-century Germany: The "Living communities"of Karl Mobius" Isis 4 (1998)pp. 605-630