26th November 2014: The multiple uses of a manuscript

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The multiple uses of a manuscript

In the summer of 1752, Linnaeus was invited to catalogue the Queen’s museum, which consisted essentially of insects and shells. Linnaeus took his student Daniel Solander (1733-1782) to help him in his task, as Solander wrote in a letter dated 4 February 1753:

Last summer I accompanied Archiater Linnaeus to Drottningholm [Palace]; and then I was allowed to be present when he put Her Majesty’s extensive Cabinet in order. (…) And now during the Christmas holidays I have been again with Archiater Linnaeus in Stockholm, where I was given the opportunity to go through Gref Tessin’s considerable Cabinet, consisting of an unbelievable collection of gastropods, stones and corals. (…) Also I have accompanied Archiater Linnaeus to Ulriksdal where he described and arranged His Majesty’s beautiful collections, consisting mostly of snakes, birds and fish.[1]

The catalogue itself was only published a good 12 years later, in 1764, as Museum s:ae m:tis Ludovicae Ulricae reginae. The Linnean Society has several drafts of the catalogue, including this one, copied out by an amanuensis (possibly Solander) and containing several annotations and corrections by Linnaeus.

catalogue
catalogue

Once the catalogue was published, the draft was put aside. But it was not discarded, and came to have an altogether different use. Indeed, some pages contain little slips of paper containing plant and insect names in the hand of Linnaeus’s son (also Carl Linnaeus, known as the Younger), while on others the ghosts of pressed plants appear. It seems that in his youth, Linnaeus the Younger made good use of this pile of paper, now deemed useless, to press and dry plant and insect specimens between the pages.

pile of paper
pile of paper

[1] Daniel Solander, Collected Correspondence 1753-1782, trans. Edward Duyker and Per Tingbrand, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 1995, pp. 15-6. Drottningholm and Ulriksdal were both royal palaces.