Natural history collections and the book: Hans Sloane's A Voyage to Jamaica (1707-1725) and his Jamaican plants

28 Sep 2017

The Jamaican herbarium assembled by Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) in 1687 formed a recorded part of his extensive museum collection from the 1730s until its purchase by the British state in 1753. The detailed examination of the organization of the botanical specimens which account for the first seven volumes of the Sloane herbarium illustrates the use of printed books in natural history collecting practices in mideighteenth-century Britain. Sloane’s personal copy of his own work, A Voyage to Jamaica (1707–25), played a central role in the cataloguing and classifying this highly organized natural historical collection. The collection was arranged according to a coherent, rational system, composed of a range of printed works, manuscripts and specimen labels which interacted with the physical spaces in which they were kept.