John V. Calhoun
The Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 73 (4), 211-256, (13 December 2019) https://doi.org/10.18473/lepi.73i4.a8
KEYWORDS: Charles Émile Blanchard, collections, historical, Lepidoptera
Despite numerous references to his drawings in the literature, the actual number of butterfly species that English artist-naturalist John Abbot (1751-c.1840) recorded in Georgia was unknown. As part of an exhaustive study spanning nearly 20 years, several thousand of Abbot's insect and bird drawings were examined. This includes a newly rediscovered collection of insect life history watercolors that Abbot sold to Heinrich Escher-Zollikofer, 20 of which were used for illustrations in the book Histoire Générale et Iconographie des Lépidoptéres et des Chenilles de l'Amérique Septentrionale by Boisduval and Le Conte (1829-). Many of Abbot's figures that were used for this book were overpainted by Charles Émile Blanchard. Also recently discovered is an unusual series of Abbot's drawings that almost entirely portray early stages of insects, mostly Lepidoptera. Each collection of Abbot's insect drawings is detailed, and the butterflies they portray are documented. Examples from most collections are figured. Abbot's species names and abundance observations are given, and his duplicate compositions are chronologically tabulated. Historical books and manuscripts that figure (or may figure) Abbot's specimens are cited, as are more recent publications that include photographs of his butterfly drawings. Insect collections that are known to contain Abbot's specimens are summarized, and known (or suspected) specimens are listed by species. Based on these findings, Abbot recorded at least 107 species of butterflies in eastern Georgia, but another 29 species have been recorded in the region since his lifetime. Some additional details about the production of Smith and Abbot (1797) are also presented.