Even in the era of scientific discovery in which he lived, Frederick DuCane Godman stood out as one of the most influential natural scientists, not only contributing to academic research in the fields of ornithology and entomology, but also taking a ...
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Even in the era of scientific discovery in which he lived, Frederick DuCane Godman stood out as one of the most influential natural scientists, not only contributing to academic research in the fields of ornithology and entomology, but also taking a keen interest in the practical methods of examining and recording every aspect of natural history. His love for travel and natural history was apparent long before he went to university at Cambridge. Here he met his lifelong friend and future co-editor, Osbert Salvin, and first formed the idea of examining the flora and fauna of Central America. Both men hoped that the study might throw some light on the problems of the geographical distribution of species and its bearing on evolution, a topic then hotly discussed after Darwin's publication of the Origin of Species in 1859. The results of nearly sixty years research were finally published as the monumental Biologia Centrali-Americana , perhaps Godman's greatest achievement. At Cambridge, Godman also pursued his interest in ornithology and entomology, going on many expeditions to collect birds' eggs and lepidoptera. After one of these rambles, Godman and a group of like-minded friends decided that a record of their results should be kept: this was the genesis of the British Ornithological Union, of which Godman was one of the twenty founding members. Its quarterly magazine, The Ibis , notable for the high quality of its illustrations, is still being issued today. By the turn of the century, Godman's contribution to natural science was widely recognised. As well as having a string of fellowships to his name, including that of the Royal Society, he was President of the British Ornithological Union, a member of the Royal Institute and a Trustee of the British Museum, which now houses his enormous Neotropical collection of natural history specimens (acquired during the preparation of the Biologia ) as well as his fine collection of early Persian and Islamic glazed pottery. Frederick DuCane Godman played a key role in many of the great natural history projects of his age. His published works testify to his scholarship, energy and enthusiasm. ALKEN, Henry. Specimens of Riding near London, Drawn from Life. London: published by Thomas M'Lean, 1821. Oblong 2° (251 x 360mm). 17 hand-coloured softground etched plates by Alken. (Two plates with repaired tears to margins, occasional light marginal soiling.) Old half morocco (scuffed). FIRST EDITION. A second edition appeared in 1823. Tooley 51.
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