Past Pleasures — Noel Humphrey’s British Butterflies

The still-gloomy end of winter, with its short days and cold temperatures, means we can spend time perusing some of the 19th-century lep-works without fear of missing out on what’s happening in the field.

With this dispensation in mind, I’ve been paging through the 1859 edition of H. Noel Humphreys’ British Butterflies, whose lavish illustrations of butterflies and their habitats set a new standard in “realistic” portrayal of butterflies in situ.

The hand-colored lithograph plates are stunning, and there is also a wealth of life history info on many of the butterflies illustrated. The subtitle tells what a treat you’re in for:

The Genera and Species of British Butterflies, described and arranged according to the System now adopted in the British Museum … illustrated by Plates in which all the Species and Varieties are represented, accompanied by their respective Caterpillars, and the Plants on which they feed.

Here’s a terrific plate of Peacocks and Camberwell Beauties (better known here in the States as Mourning Cloak) as an example of the rich biological detail the plates include:

You could spend several hundred dollars to obtain a copy for your bookshelf, or you could read it for free here in the LepLog library, courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library:

This entry was posted in European butterflies, general butterfly news, Identification tips, Review. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Past Pleasures — Noel Humphrey’s British Butterflies

  1. Frederick Huber says:

    Very cool, thanks!!

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