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John Curtis Collection of Insects


In 1863, Frederick McCoy, Director of the National Museum of Victoria, purchased the John Curtis Collection of British and Foreign Insects for £567.

John Curtis (1791–1862) was a well-known British entomologist who amassed a collection of over 40 000 specimens, covering all major orders of insects and containing many type specimens used to describe new species. The specimens in the collection were gathered either by Curtis himself or by other eminent British entomologists of the day. The oldest specimen dates back to 1796.

McCoy also purchased the Curtis Agricultural Insect Collection, which documents British agricultural pest insects. This is an invaluable biological snapshot of British insect pest fauna from the 1820s to 1860s. Curtis maintained handwritten diaries that detail the locality and host records for every specimen in the collection. It continues to be examined by European and American scientists today because the type specimens of many European species are included. It also contains species now considered to be extinct in England.

Moth specimens, John Curtis Collection
 Moth specimens, John Curtis Collection

 Moth specimens, John Curtis Collection

 Detail of specimen label, John Curtis Collection

 Wasp tray, John Curtis Collection
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Moth specimens, John Curtis Collection Image source: Museum Victoria

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