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Entomologists in the network of freemasons between American and the French Revolutions

FORSTER, Johann Reinhold.
[Letter to an unnamed fellow freemason in Braunschweig, probably Ferdinand, Herzog von Braunschweig-Lünenburg or someone in his inner circle].
Halle (Saale), 9 August 1781. 4to. Autograph letter in German, signed, written in brown ink on laid paper in a clear German hand, with foreign words and names in a Latin hand.
€ 12,500
Signed autograph letter from Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798), professor of natural history at the University of Halle, member of the Royal Societies of London and Göttingen and very active freemason, to a fellow mason at Braunschweig, passing on information about the London goldsmith and entomologist Dru Drury (1725-1804) and his Illustrations of natural history (1770-1782), explicitly noting that Moses Harris engraved the butterflies for it and that the third volume was in press. It also makes reference to many other figures in the English scientific circles, including Joseph Banks and Henry Smeathman. The footnote refers to the engraved portrait of Linnaeus and to the 1781 supplement to his Mantissa plantarum, published at Braunschweig.
After Johann Reinhold and his son Georg returned from Cook’s second voyage to the South Seas (1772-1775), they joined the masonic lodge Les neuf soers in Paris, established in 1776, where Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Jérôme de Lalande and many other leading intellectuals met and kept in touch.
Formerly folded horizontally and vertically for posting and later mounted on a stub (with traces surviving along the main fold). Slightly browned and with minor wear along the old folds, and with some small ink stains, affecting but not obscuring a few words. Still in good condition. A detailed letter giving insights into the important scientific and masonic networks in Europe between the American and the French Revolution.
For background information: Whitehead, "A guide to the dispersal of zoological material from Captain Cook’s voyages", pp. 53-93, at pp. 68-70; Uhlig, George Forster, especially pp. 136-138.
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Autographs, documents & manuscripts  >  Autographs & Letters
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Book History, Calligraphy & Printing
Natural history  >  Insects & Spiders