Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Donithorpe is dead and buried

I finally finished the last of the Donisthorpe collection. It was the other half of the project that I was grant funded for and what has been paying my wages for the last 18 months. I was bought on board to conserve and rehouse two collections on this grant money. By far the larger part of that was the Wollaston Collections which has taken up about 90% of my time and involved major relabelling and databasing. The other part that was tacked on to bulk out the grant application was the transfer of Donisthorpe's Windsor Forest collection which is a historic collection made in the 1930's and is a full reference collection of the Coleoptera of Windsor Forest. Donisthorpe was the only person ever given permission by the Royal Family to collect in this forest and it contains many examples of rare species only found within this ancient forest. Windsor Forest is the best example of an ancient woodland in Britain as it has had Royal protection for so long hence the importance of the collection.
And now its all done. Its been moved into new storage which involved transferring specimens from their original housing of a rather nice mahogany cabinet into new plastozote lined unit trays and lime wood drawers. These are put in pest proof steel cabinets and then the door is locked and I get to walk away whistling. Yippee!
On a final note it's worth mentioning Donisthorpe himself. He was absolutely binkers which makes a nice footnote to the story. He used to be a bit of a canary fancier and wore a large top hat and used to stick any of the feathers that his canary shed in the band around the outside. He eventually blew his own brains out with a shotgun or some such thing and it turns out that he was suffering from syphilis. One of his final acts when he was in his fully mad stage was to try and get a family of beetles renamed after him because he felt that his work was so important that he deserved to go down in the annuals of history and have his name preserved for perpetuity. Ironically it was the shotgun that ensured that this was so.

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