UMass Amherst
William Curtis

Instructions for collecting and preserving insects; particularly moths and butterflies. Illustrated with a copper-plate, on which the nets, and other apparatus necessary for that purpose are delineated...
London: Printed by the author, and sold by George Pearch, 1771.
iv, 90 p. fold. plate, 22 cm.

Call no: QL465.C9 1771

The scope of natural history changed dramatically in 18th century England under the influence of published works directed at amateurs. Although the intended audience for these works was often the same gentlemen who dominated the scientific elite, women, artisans, and people of the middling sort were avid consumers of natural history and soon made efforts to take part in scientific discussions about the natural world.

William Curtis' (1746-1799) Instructions for collecting and preserving insects was, in many ways, a typical work in popular entomology. A practical work designed for budding naturalists, it provides the essentials for capturing, mounting, and preserving insect specimens, "particularly moths and butterflies." As with many works during the high tide of English imperial expansion, there is an explicit colonial context for the work: Curtis notes that the instructions were prepared "for a gentleman going to reside abroad," an occurrence then happening with increasing frequency.

Best known for his Botanical Magazine, Or, Flower Garden Display'd, the highly successful journal, Curtis was barely 25 when he published his Instructions, but he had already attained a stature sufficient to earn him the directorship of the Society of Apothecaries at the Chelsea Physic Garden..

title page

insect collecting Materials needed for collecting and preserving insects.