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Society for the History of Natural History

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CfP Trading Nature. Joint Meeting of SHNH & Geological Curators Group in York, 4-5 June 2019

CfP Trading Nature. Joint Meeting of SHNH & Geological Curators Group in York, 4-5 June 2019

SHNH summer meeting and AGM in association with the Geological Curators Group

The King’s Manor, University of York

Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th June 2019

This two day international meeting held in association with the Geological Curators’ Group will examine the role of agents, dealers and commercial enterprises in the history of natural history.

A great deal has been recorded about those collecting and studying the natural world over the past 400 years. Much less is known about those who helped supply them. Often underplayed and viewed as peripheral and sometimes even shady figures, the endeavours, contributions and motivations of these ‘middle-men and women’ are often overlooked. The boundaries and realities of their everyday activities are frequently blurred and sometimes misunderstood. This meeting aims to shed new light on the lives, work and impact of these often undervalued participants and contributors in the development of collections and research in the natural sciences.

Call for Papers

We would welcome papers in all areas of the natural sciences and eras of relevance to the theme, potentially covering, but not restricted to:

  • The lives and roles of traders and dealers in natural history collecting networks.
  • The contributions of agents, dealers and commercial enterprises to the development of, and understanding in, the natural sciences.
  • The role of sale rooms and auction houses and other types of businesses as part of the culture of collecting.
  • The supply of natural history material of all kinds to private collectors, museums and universities.
  • The historical trade in specimens (living and non-living), around the world.
  • Trade networks and routes, and the ethics of trade over the past 400 years.
  • The role of colonialism, and those involved, in the establishment and contribution to international trade.
  • The environmental and social impact of trade, be it political, economic, cultural, or environmental.

Short abstracts (maximum 200 words) for 20 minute papers (as well as posters) should be sent to Jo Hatton ( by 11th January 2019.

Please note: Papers will be limited to a maximum of 15 to be distributed over the 2 days. Papers will be given for the full day on Tuesday 4th June, followed by a morning session only on Wednesday 5th June. Afternoon tours and visits to museums and related places (yet to be confirmed) will take place after lunch on this day.

Please also note: Speakers registration will be £40 for 2 days, £20 for one day (half the members rate). A limited number of bursaries will be awarded to students and others with insufficient means to present at the meeting. Please contact the SHNH Honorary Treasurer regarding eligibility and further details on how to apply.


Images: Mary Anning (1799-1847), a page from a Schluter and Mass catalogue (German Natural History dealers), and Mary Anning’s house and shop in Lyme Regis from where she first sold fossils.