Treasures From Rare and Historic Books of the Library and Archives of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Exquisitely detailed scientific illustrations reveal the beauty and artistry in documenting the natural history of life.

By Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John James AdubonAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

A Treasure Trove

The Academy Library and Archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is internationally recognized for its rare and historic books, journals, art, artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, and the unique papers and research of Academy members and staff. The Library holds more than 250,000 titles that span from 1520 to present, and two-thirds of all titles predate the 20th century. 

Voyage de la Corvette l'Astrolabe by Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d'UrvilleAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The 2,000 Archives collections contain more than a million items, including manuscripts, field notebooks, correspondence, films, journals, and photographs. The Archives collections span from 1692 to present, including art and artifacts. Shown here: 1, 2 Dauphin de la Nouvelle-Zélande, Femelle. (Nouv-Zélande.) 3,4 Dauphin Obscur Varié. (Cap de Bonne Espérance.)

The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands by Mark CatesbyAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The scientific illustrations in this exhibit are some of the treasures from our rare and historic books. For information on searching and visiting the Academy Library and Archives, please visit ansp.org. Shown here: Prunus Maritima Racemosa, The Mangrove Grape Tree

Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière by Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de BuffonAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John James AdubonAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Vulpes Velox, Say. Swift Fox

Recherches sur Les Ossemens Fossiles by Georges Cuvier, BaronAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Grand Mastodonte. PL. V

The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands by Mark CatesbyAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Land crab

Mark Catesby’s etchings were said to be “drawn from life,” unlike other naturalists and artists of his time whose work was drawn from dried specimens or described second hand.

Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière by Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de BuffonAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

L’ai Adulte (Three-toed Ground Sloth)

The Naturalists' Miscellany, or Coloured Figures of Natural Objects by George ShawAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Hyacinth Macaw

Once an ordained deacon, George Shaw quit to pursue his love of natural history. He co-founded the Linneaen Society and identified many new species from Australia while working at the British Museum.

Recherches sur Les Ossemens Fossiles by Georges Cuvier, BaronAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Grand Mastodonte. PL. I

The Naturalists' Miscellany, or Coloured Figures of Natural Objects by George ShawAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Phalaena Regia (Persimmon Moth, Caterpillar and Pupa)

American Conchology, or Descriptions of the Shells of North America by Thomas SayAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Fusus

Thomas Say was a founding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, which was established in 1812. He published the first book on conchology in America and became known as the “Father of American Conchology.” The book was recognized abroad as a true work of science, proof that the U.S. had reputable scientists and researchers.

American conchology, or Descriptions of the Shells of North America by Thomas SayAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Unio Ventricosus

Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium by Maria Sibylla MerianAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Granaat Boom

Maria Sibylla Merian’s work depicted, possibly for the first time, the metamorphoses of insects and the flora and fauna that surrounded them. This was no small feat in the 17th century, and her work influenced other great naturalists including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby, and William Bartram.

Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium by Maria Sibylla MerianAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Surinaamsche Krocodil (Surinam Crocodile)

North American Herpetology by John Edwards HolbrookAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Chelonia Caretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtle)

North American Herpetology by John Edwards HolbrookAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Coluber Eximius

Oiseaux Dorés ou à Reflets Métalliques. Tome premier-[second] by J. B. (Jean Baptiste) AudebertAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Le Hausse – Col Dore

Gleanings of Natural History by George EdwardsAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Green and Red Parrot from China

The Birds of Australia by John GouldAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Calyptorhynchus Basksii (Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo)

The Birds of Australia by John GouldAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Platycercus Flaviventris (Yellow-Bellied Parrakeet)

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John James AudubonAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Bos Americanus, Gmel (American Bison or Buffalo)

John James Audubon was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences and is best known for his masterpiece Birds of America. His book on quadrupeds was his next large-scale project, and the quality of the plates are comparable. 

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle by Charles Darwin, Esq.Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Pyrocephalus Nanus (Galapagos Flycatcher)

This book details the specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the H. M. S. Beagle’s voyage around the coasts of South America, Australian, Africa, and elsewhere. The series was initially issued in five parts over four years. Each part was authored by an expert in the field. Darwin’s observations on this trip led him to develop his theory of evolution.

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle by Charles Darwin, Esq.Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Rhea Darwinii

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle by Charles Darwin, Esq.Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Scorpana Histrio

The Birds of Australia by John GouldAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Ptilonorhynchus Holosericeus: Kuhl (Satin Bower Bird)

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