The Address delivered by the President, Dr. A. Günther, at the last Anniversary Meeting of the Linnean Society of London, refers to and describes the "Fishes from Linné's private collection, many of which have served as types or cotypes for the species enumerated in the 'Systema Naturæ.' and which have never been catalogued." We learn that the collection consists now entirely of dried half-skins of fish either loose or mounted on folio sheets of paper; many have been fixed on cardboards, but this was done at a comparatively recent period. This method of preserving fish, like specimens of a hortus siccus, seems to have been first employed by Johann Friederich Gronow, who described it in the 'Philosophical Transactions,' and whose collection of similarly prepared skins is still preserved in the Natural History Museum.
"We are informed by Sir J.E. Smith himself that Linné's private collection contained, at the time of its purchase, 158 specimens of dried fish-skins, beside some in spirits. These latter were not kept by Smith; perhaps he did not sufficiently care for them to have them sent over from Sweden with the other parts of the collection." Dr. Günther makes the number of specimens at present in the Society's possession to be rather higher, viz. 168, the discrepancy being probably due to the circumstance that when two small specimens of the same species were mounted on the same sheet of paper they were counted as one by the person who prepared the original inventory. At any rate there is no evidence which might lead one to suspect that any of the specimens have been lost since they came into the possession of the Society.
The collection was kept for a great many years in one of Linné's own cabinets, which, however well it may have answered its purpose in the pure air of Linné's residence, is quite unsuitable in the dust-laden atmosphere of Piccadilly; and the wonder is, how little the specimens have suffered under the accumulation of matter in the wrong place. In order to render them more secure in the future, the Council has ordered them to be transferred to dust-proof glass-topped boxes, in which they are so arranged that,
- "A Method of preparing Specimens of Fish by drying their Skins as practised by John Frederick Gronovius, M.D., at Leyden" ('Philos. Trans.' vol. xlii. 1744, p. 57).
- 'Mem. and Corresp. of the late Sir J.E. Smith,' vol. i. p. 114.