The art of science: a 'rediscovery' of the Lister copperplates

Roos, Anna Marie (2012) The art of science: a 'rediscovery' of the Lister copperplates. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 66 (1). pp. 19-40. ISSN 0035-9149

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In 1712 Martin Lister bequeathed the collection of more than 1000 copperplates to the University of Oxford that he used for his Historiae Conchyliorum, the first comprehensive study of conchology. In the mid-eighteenth century, William Huddesford, keeper of the Bodleian Library, used the copperplates to create another edition of Historiae, but after that they are not mentioned again in the published literature. I recently 'rediscovered' the plates in the Bodleian Library, since their transfer from the Ashmolean Museum in 1860. I use historical analysis, as well as a selective study of the copperplates with X-ray fluorescence techniques, to examine a portion of the plates and the process of their production. I show that Martin Lister's daughter engraved a paper for Philosophical Transactions, and demonstrate that she was among the first female scientific illustrators to use a microscope. Furthermore, one of the Lister copperplates may be the last survivor of those engraved for Philosophical Transactions, the rest having been surrendered to the nation in World War I. The significant intellectual and artisanal challenges presented to a skilful naturalist in the transformation of a field specimen into an aesthetically pleasing illustration as well as a scientific object conveying taxonomic information are delineated.

Additional Information:Published online ahead of print December 14, 2011
Keywords:Martin Lister, Conchology, Copperplates, Royal Society
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:7896
Deposited On:15 Mar 2013 09:37

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