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The Britain Research Library Special Collections


Some of my most prized possessions. History of science and paleontology fans should geek out on this a little.


The main interest of these items is not so much their subject matter but who wrote and owned them. All of these monographs were at one time apparently part of the personal collection of paleontologist Joseph T. Gregory (whose stamped name appears on most of them. I obtained them from an antiquarian book dealer in Sacramento, California.




Item #1 is somewhat tattered monograph of a paper by Thomas H. Huxley and Edward Percival Wright (1867) "On a Collection of Fossil Vertebrata from the Jarrow Colliery County Kilkenny Ireland." from The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy Vol. 24 - Science. Wright was a professor of botany, at Trinity College, Dublin.




In the upper right-hand corner we find three names. First a stamp of the name Joseph T. Gregory secondly R. S. (Richard Swann) Lull's name is hand written and finally a hand written dedication by coauthor Edward Percival Wright to someone unknown (due to the name being cut out), but possibly Marsh, dated January 1867.


The title page.




On the title page in the upper left-hand corner is the stamp of O. C. (Othniel Charles) Marsh.



Two of the plates from the monograph.





Item #2 is a somewhat more tattered monograph of a paper by Thomas H. Huxley (1877) "The Crocodilian Remains Found in the Elgin Sandstone, with Remarks on the Ichnites of Cummingstone", Memoirs of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom, Monograph 3.



The upper left-hand corner has a stamp labeling this as property of pioneering American dinosaur paleontologist O. C. Marsh of Yale College (University).


The upper right-hand corner are two hand written names, one in ink (scratched over with pencil) and one in pencil. The first name in ink is that of O. C. Marsh. The second in pencil is the name of Marsh's successor at the Yale Peabody Museum, R. S. Lull.



Two of the plates from the monograph.


[My wife's finger.]




Item #3 is a reprint by O. C. Marsh (1891) "Restoration of Stegosaurus", The American Journal of Science, Vol. 42. Note, again, the stamped name of Joseph T. Gregory.





Item #4 is another reprint by O. C. Marsh (1893) "A New Cretaceous Bird Allied to Hesperornis", The American Journal of Science, Vol. 45. Note the stamped name of Joseph T. Gregory.




Item #5 is another reprint by O. C. Marsh (1895) "Thomas Henry Huxley", The American Journal of Science, Vol. 50. This of course being an epitaph of the noted English agnostic and evolutionist. Note, yet again, the stamped name of Joseph T. Gregory.



Item #6 is a reprint of an article by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn (1900) "Reconsideration of the Evidence for a Common Dinosaur-Avian Stem in the Permian", The American Naturalist Vol. 34 No.406


The name hand written in the upper right-hand corner is that of George Reber Wieland a paleobotanist at the Yale Peabody Museum. What is somewhat amusing, at least to me, is the fact that Wieland was a student of O. C. Marsh, and Osborn was a student of Edward Drinker Cope (Marsh's bitter enemy in the so called "Bone Wars").




Item #7 is a reprint of a book chapter by Richard Swann Lull, "Connecting and Missing Links in the Ascent to Man", from Creation by Evolution (1928), Frances Mason editor. Note here as well the stamped name of Joseph T. Gregory.



It would seem that most of these at one time belonged to O. C. Marsh (though obviously not items 6 and 7 which date from after his death) and were passed down to his successors (curators of vertebrate paleontology) at the Yale Peabody Museum, Richard Swann Lull (who would have seen the addition of items 6 and 7) and then, after skipping a few, Joseph T. Gregory. Gregory apparently took them with him when he moved from Yale to Berkeley in 1960 which ultimately led them to me.


These tattered booklets are special to me not for what they are about (though some are interesting for that reason as well), but because they connect me with some of the giants of paleontology and evolutionary biology. These items that found their way into my collection through Joseph T. Gregory and Richard Swann Lull (no slouches themselves) once belonged to the great O. C. Marsh one of the pioneering giants of dinosaur paleontology. For example Marsh was responsible for the naming such dinosaurian icons as Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus (a.k.a. brontosaurus) Triceratops, and Allosaurus.


That by itself would be enough to endear these things to me since I, like so many others involved in science and science education, was once a child fascinated by dinosaurs who never grew out of that fascination. In fact it has only grow with time and expanded in scope to all living and once living things.


But it doesn't stop with Marsh because through him I am connected to all the people he met in person, like John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and even Charles Darwin.


Fun stuff.