William Jones (1745-1818) was a premier English naturalist and entomologist known today mostly for his collection of some 1,500 watercolors of butterflies and moths. The 6-volume collection, Jones Icones, in the hands of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, illustrates specimens from around the world, including specimens from the collections of Dru Drury, Joseph Banks and John Francillon as well as a few from the British Museum and Linnean Society collections. Sadly, this stunning collection of illustrations has never been published.
On his death, the watercolors, Jones’ notepads, and a modest but historically important butterfly collection (including specimens of the now-extinct Large Copper Butterfly, Lycaena dispar), went to his cousin John Drewitt and remained in the Drewitt family until the 1920s, at which time they were transferred to Oxford.
Now the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported digitizing the watercolors and many of the other items in the collection, which was just loaded online as Flying Icons: The Collection of William Jones of Chelsea (1745-1818). They’re amazing plates.
But for the keen lepidopterist, the Museum has a challenge:
>>Many of the butterflies and moths represented in Jones’ ‘Icones’ have never been identified, and no extensive attempt has been made to attribute all the Lepidoptera in the Icones with their modern species names. This would provide an invaluable resource to anyone studying Lepidoptera and could change our understanding of the history of the discipline and the naming of these species.
We need your help to accomplish this enormous task. If you are a Lepidoptera systematist, a keen and knowledgeable collector of butterflies or moths … or simply want to have a go at identifying butterflies and moths, then please request an account. If you already have an account, then please sign in and contribute!<<
You don’t need an account just to browse, though.