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1 March 2014 The Butterflies of North America by W. H. Edwards: Revised Citations for the First Volume and for the Synopsis of North American Butterflies
John V. Calhoun
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Calhoun (2013) proposed detailed citations for the three-volume book The Butterflies of North America (BNA) and its related publications by William H. Edwards. However, I found it difficult to determine the actual publication schedule for the Synopsis of North American Butterflies, which was issued in parts in conjunction with the first volume of BNA. Because I did not have access to a complete copy of the first volume in wrappers as issued, I relied upon the summary by McHenry (1952) and other evidence for my proposed citation of the Synopsis.

Soon after the publication of Calhoun (2013), I was contacted by a lepidopterist who owns a copy of BNA with all the separate parts in their original wrappers bound into three volumes. It retains all pages and plates as issued. Moreover, this rare set was owned by the entomologist Samuel H. Scudder, who received the parts as they were published (Calhoun 2013). The book's owner (who prefers to remain anonymous for the purposes of this paper) generously provided photocopies of numerous pages for my review.

The first part of Scudder's copy of BNA bears an inscription reading “Mr. S. H. Scudder from the Author.” Not in the hand of Edwards, this inscription was most likely written by a member of the American Entomological Society, who printed and mailed parts of the first volume of BNA from a room at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (ANSP) (Calhoun 2013). Scudder wrote the dates of receipt on the covers of most parts. He possibly did this for all parts of the book, but some of his notations may have been trimmed away when the volumes were bound. These dates provide a valuable record of publication of BNA, as Scudder lived in the same town (Cambridge, Massachusetts) as Riverside Press, the firm that printed and mailed parts of the second and third volumes.

The owner of this set of BNA acquired it in 1989 from the bookseller Wheldon & Wesley. Each volume bears a bookplate of the Boston Society of Natural History (BSNH), for whom Scudder served several positions, including president. The bookplate reads “S. H. Scudder Library / Gift of Samuel Hubbard Scudder / President of the Society 1880–1887 / June 22, 1903” (Fig. 1). Believing that his future was in jeopardy after developing symptoms of what we now recognize as Parkinson's Disease, Scudder donated his personal library of nearly 10,000 books, offprints, and maps to BSNH before his death in 1911 (Allen 1904, Mayor 1919, Creed 1930). The specialized bookplate was created by BSNH a short time after the donation of Scudder's material in 1903 (Allen 1904). Written at the bottom of each bookplate in Scudder's copy of BNA is the notation “Replacing former copy” (Fig. 1), revealing that the BSNH subscription volumes were lost or removed from the society's library prior to 1903.

In 1946, the bulk of the library of the Boston Society of Natural History was sold to the Allan Hancock Foundation (Johnson 2004). The same year when the BSNH library was sold, the name of the society's museum was changed to the Boston Museum of Science (later, the Museum of Science, Boston; BMS) and the original museum building was sold to a clothier (Johnson 2004). The new museum opened five years later along the Charles River. The original BSNH building, at the corner of Berkeley and Boylston Streets, was recently refurbished to serve as a gallery of the luxury home furnishings company, Restoration Hardware.

Fig. 1.

Bookplate from Scudder's copy of BNA.


The books purchased in 1946 from BSNH are now deposited in the Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California; USC). A copy of BNA is preserved at USC, but it was originally owned by the New York artist and lepidopterist Emily L. Morton (1841–1920), who was a correspondent of W. H. Edwards and collaborated with him on documenting the life history of the butterfly Feniseca tarquinius (F.) (Edwards 1886, Newcomb 1917). It was purchased by the Allan Hancock Foundation in 1943 (M. K. Hayes pers. comm.). The provenance of this copy supports the notion that the original BSNH subscription copy was removed from the society's library prior to 1903.

A number of books in the BSNH library were not sold in 1946 (Johnson 2004) and they presumably included Scudder's copy of BNA. The current owner of this copy possibly viewed it on display at the museum around 1970. No specific records about this copy of the book were found by BMS staff, but they noted that the museum previously sold books from its library. Some were purchased by the former Boston bookseller David L. O'Neal, who was in business from 1973 to 2001 (O'Neal 2013). O'Neal (pers. comm.) confirmed that he had obtained former BSNH books from the museum and Scudder's copy of BNA was possibly among them. Items from the Scudder library continue to circulate within the antiquarian book market. For example, I recently purchased a copy of Fernald (1888), which bears the “S. H. Scudder Library” bookplate.

Scudder's copy of BNA was acquired by the former bookseller Wheldon & Wesley just before they sold it in September 1989. Wheldon & Wesley was founded in 1921 in London, England, and ceased trading in 2004. The firm's records, dating back to about 1950, were purchased by private individuals and later donated to the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), where they are now preserved in the Cullman Library. The records consist of index cards with handwritten information about every book bought and sold by the bookseller. Unfortunately, the record pertaining to Scudder's copy of BNA does not indicate where it had been acquired and mostly reflects the same information that appeared in the firm's published sales catalog (Wheldon & Wesley 1989). The brief catalog entry described the book as “Samuel Scudder's copy” and noted that the original part wrappers were “bound in place.”

Scudder's copy of BNA affords the rare opportunity to more fully understand the publication sequence of the Synopsis of North American Butterflies, including all its revised pages. During this process, I discovered that several additional letterpress pages were reissued for the first volume, beyond those listed in Calhoun (2013). I also recently became aware another important source of information regarding the dates of issue for the first volume.

Revised citation for the Synopsis. Although McHenry (1952) indicated that pages 51 and 52 of the Synopsis were issued with Part 10 of the first volume, I assumed this was in error. Edwards' notes for the Synopsis, which were published on these two pages, stated, “Pages 1 to 6, 10, 11 and 19, have been reprinted with corrections since their original issue.” I therefore concluded that the replacement pages, which were not listed by McHenry (1952), were issued in Part 10 in September 1872, while the notes for the Synopsis were issued in the supplementary part of January 1873 (Calhoun 2013). Scudder's copy, however, reveals just the opposite. Included in the supplementary part of BNA was a group of pages preceded by a sheet reading “NOTE. The following pages are to be substituted for those previously issued.” Twelve of these pages were related to the Synopsis.

Edwards referred to the replacement pages of the Synopsis before they were published, evidently because he originally planned to issue them in Part 10, the same in which his notes appeared. In a “Notice to Subscribers,” mailed with Part 7, Edwards announced, “I have found myself unable to prevent some errors in the Synopsis, as on pages 5, 10 and 11. In these cases the pages will be reprinted and a corrected copy furnished to each subscriber on completion of the volume, with Part X.” This did not occur, thus Edwards issued these pages in the subsequent supplement.

The following citation supersedes that given in Calhoun (2013) for the Synopsis of North American Butterflies as originally issued. It corrects the publication sequence of pages in Part 10 and the supplementary part.

[1869] – [1873]. Synopsis of North American butterflies. In: W. H. Edwards (1868-[1873]), The Butterflies of North America [with colored drawings and descriptions]. Philadelphia: American Entomological Society 1: (3) [1] –4 (Dec 1868 [May 1869]), (4) 5–6 (Apr [Sept] 1869), (5) 5–6 (replacements) (Dec 1869 [Apr 1870]), (6) 7–14 (Jun [Aug] 1870), (7) 15–22 (Jan [Mar] 1871), (8) 23–38 (Aug 1871), (10), 39–52 (Jul [Sep] 1872), (Suppl.) t.p., ii–v, [1] –6, 9–12, 19, 20 (all replacements) (1872 [Jan 1873]).

Revised citation for the first volume of BNA. The replacement pages that were issued in the supplementary part of January 1873 included new letterpress for five plates. These plates, the species treated, pages, and reasons for the new text are as follows: Parnassius I (Parnassius clodius Ménétriés ssp.) ([19, 20]; updated discussion), Argynnis IV (Speyeria nokomis (Edwards)) ([73, 74]; updated description), Argynnis X (Speyeria cybele leto (Behr)) ([85, 86]; updated description and discussion), Melitaea I (Euphydryas chalcedona (Doubleday)) ([97, 98]; hostplants changed), and Apatura I (Asterocampa celtis (Boisduval & Le Conte)) ([135, 136]; name correction). I previously was aware only of the replacement pages for the Argynnis plates (Calhoun 2013).

Scudder's handwritten dates of receipt are visible on the covers of four parts of the first volume of his copy of BNA. All the dates are consistent with those given in Calhoun (2013): Part 1 (17 June 1868), Part 3 (13 May 1869), Part 5 (18 April 1870), Part 7 (24 March 1871). In addition to Scudder's notations, the Ewell Sale Stewart Library (ANSP) preserves a handwritten ledger entitled “Subscribers to Vol. 1,” which records the names of the subscribers and their payments, as well as the dates of issue for most parts of this volume. This ledger was written by Ezra T. Cresson, Sr., who personally printed the first volume of BNA and handled its distribution (Calhoun 2013). The dates recorded by Cresson are as follows: Part 1 (not given), Part 2 (not given), Part 3 (8 May 1869), Part 4 (3 September 1869), Part 5 (7 April 1870), Part 6 (9 August 1870), Part 7 (6 March 1871), Part 8 (6 September 1871), Part 9 (19 February 1872), Part 10 (29 August 1872), Supplementary Part (13 January 1873).

Despite Cresson's records, Edwards noted that Part 8 was “out” by 25 August 1871 and John W. Weidemeyer reportedly received Part 9 by 13 February 1872 (Calhoun 2013). Cresson's ledger indicates that subscribers generally submitted payment after they received the parts, sometimes within days. The earliest payment received for Part 8 (excluding obvious prepayments) was 11 September 1871, suggesting that Edwards' reference to 25 August was anecdotal, as he did not explicitly state that he had actually received the part by that date. The earliest payment for Part 9 was received on 23 January 1872, implying issuance during mid-January. Eighteen payments were received for this part during January and many more were received during early February.

Cresson's date of 29 August 1872 for Part 10 is reasonable, as Edwards received his own copy around 5 September (Calhoun 2013). This is consistent with the time required for mail to reach Coalburg, West Virginia, from Philadelphia. On the revised “Dates of Issue” page, which was created for copies of the first volume of BNA beginning with the 1874 reissue, Edwards attributed Part 10 to September. This suggests that he based this information on the dates when he personally received the parts. Cresson most likely recorded the dates when he mailed the bulk of the parts, not the first copies.

The following citation supersedes that given in Calhoun (2013) for the first volume of BNA (Edwards 1868-[1873]) as originally issued. It incorporates the corrected dates of issue for Parts 8 and 10, as well as the additional replacement pages in the supplementary part.

1868– [1873]. The butterflies of North America [with colored drawings and descriptions]. Philadelphia: American Entomological Society 1: (1) ii, [63–76], pls. [20–24] (Apr [Jun] 1868), (2) [41–44, 77–80, 135–136], pls. [12, 13, 25, 26, 45] (Aug [Oct] 1868), (3) [81–84, 127, 128, 141–144, 149–152], pls. [27, 28, 41, 47, 49] (Dec 1868 [May 1869]), (4) [45–52, 85, 86, 129, 130, 145–148], pls. [14, 15, 29, 42, 48] (Apr [Sept] 1869), (5) [53, 54, 87, 88, 99, 100, 131, 132, 153–156], pls. [16, 30, 35, 43, 50] (Dec 1869 [Apr 1870]), (6) [37, 38, 55, 56, 89–92, 133, 134], pls. [10, 17, 31, 32, 44] (Jun [Aug] 1870), (7) [17–20, 39, 40, 57, 58, 97, 98, 137–140] pls. [4, 11, 18, 34, 46] (Jan [Mar] 1871]), (8) [29–36, 93–96, 101–110], pls. [8, 9, 33, 36, 37] (Sept 1871), (9) [1–16, 111–120], pls. [1, 2, 3, 38, 39] (Dec 1871 [Jan 1872]), (10) [21–28, 59–62, 121–126], pls. [5, 6, 7, 19, 40] (Jul [Aug] 1872), (Suppl.) t.p, [ii], [4 pp.], [19, 20, 73, 74, 85, 86, 97, 98, 135, 136 (all replacements), 157–164], pls. [20, 23, 29 (all replacements) (1872 [Jan 1873]).


For kindly examining books, sending images, and other assistance, I thank Melinda K. Hayes and Rachelle B. Smith (Special Collections, USC), Richard James and Clare Flemming (Ewell Sale Stewart Library, ANSP), Leslie K. Overstreet (Cullman Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington, D.C.), Claudia Rivers (Special Collections, University of El Paso Library, El Paso, Texas), and Violetta Wolf (BMS). David L. O’Neal (Oakland, California) confirmed his purchase of BSNH books. Mark Salvato and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments. Finally, I extend special thanks to the owner of Scudder’s copy of BNA, who patiently answered my many questions, generously provided photocopies, and continues to selflessly promote a greater understanding of BNA.

Literature Cited


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John V. Calhoun "The Butterflies of North America by W. H. Edwards: Revised Citations for the First Volume and for the Synopsis of North American Butterflies," The Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 68(1), 66-69, (1 March 2014).
Accepted: 4 October 2013; Published: 1 March 2014
Samuel H. Scudder
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