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List of natural history dealers

Natural history specimen dealers had an important role in the development of science in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. They supplied the rapidly growing, both in size and number, museums and educational establishments and private collectors whose collections, either in entirety or parts finally entered museums. Most sold not just zoological, botanical and geological specimens but also equipment and books. Many also sold archaeological and ethnographic items.They purchased specimens from professional and amateur collectors, sometimes collected themselves as well as acting as agents for the sale of collections. Many were based in mercantile centres notably Amsterdam, Hamburg, and London or in major cities. Some were specialists and some were taxonomic authorities who wrote scientific works and manuals, some functioned as trading museums or institutes.

This is a list of natural history dealers from the 16th to the 19th century: here are names that are frequently encountered in museum collections.

  • Rudolf Tancré (1842–1934) Anklam, Pomerania Dealer in Lepidoptera mainly of Central Asia and Siberia.
  • Georg Thorey - Hamburg pharmacist and beetle collector. Also sold beetles to other natural history collectors.
  • Johann Gustav Friedrich Umlauff (1833–1889) Proprieter of prominent Hamburg-based natural history and ethnographic dealership and associated museum.
  • Unio Itineraria a German Scientific Society based in Esslingen am Neckar sold specimens as a dealership.
  • Van Ingen & Van Ingen
  • Jules Verreaux Owner of Maison Verreaux, established in 1803 by his father, Jacques Philippe Verreaux, at Place des Vosges in Paris, which was the earliest known company that dealt with objects of natural history.
  • Jean Villet Cape Town
  • Voigt & Hochgesang Göttingen
  • Józef Warszewicz Guatemala 1844-1850
  • Henry Augustus Ward Founder of Ward's Natural History Establishment in Rochester, New York.
  • Rowland Ward London
  • White Watson
  • William Watkins Began trading in 1874 in Eastbourne. In 1879 the address was 36 The Strand, London. In 1907 the dealership became Watkins & Doncaster (1907). In 1937 ownership passed to Frederick Metté an expert on bird eggs.
  • Frank Blake Webster's Naturalists Supply Depot 409 Washington Street, Hyde Park, Massachusetts
  • Walter Freeman Webb (1869–1957) Shell dealer St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Bryce McMurdo Wright father (1814-1875) or son (1850-1895), both with same name and both dealers at 90 Great Russell Street, London. They dealt in minerals and fossils, ethnographic and archaeological objects.
  • Bohuslav Železný Prague 1890-? Lepidoptera.
  • Emil Weiske Saalfeld Insect and bird collector and dealer.
  • Rudolf Zimmermann (1878–1943) mineralogist and dealer in natural history specimens for schools based in Chemnitz, Saxony. Author of Die Mineralien. Eine Anleitung zum Sammeln und Bestimmen derselben nebst einer Beschreibung der wichtigsten Arten
  • Mark V. Barrow, 2000 The Specimen Dealer: Entrepreneurial Natural History in America’s Gilded Age Journal of the History of Biology 33: 493–534 [1]
  • Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf) 1904-1912 The history of the collections contained in the natural history departments of the British Museum. British Museum London, Printed by order of the Trustees
  • Horn et al., 1990: Collectiones entomologicae. Berlin.
  • Mearns B. & Mearns R., 1998: The Bird Collectors. Academic Press, London


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