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Perry's Arcana, 1810-1811

By Jef Akst Perry’s Arcana, 1810–1811 An architect by training, George Perry, Jr. from England was a self-proclaimed naturalist, publishing two largely graphical collections of the natural world—the Conchology, a large book that depicts shells of various species, and the Arcana, one of the first serial magazines of natural history. Each month, subscribers to the Arcana would receive a “little paper package” of loose-leaf pages—one to f

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Perry’s Arcana, 1810–1811

An architect by training, George Perry, Jr. from England was a self-proclaimed naturalist, publishing two largely graphical collections of the natural world—the Conchology, a large book that depicts shells of various species, and the Arcana, one of the first serial magazines of natural history. Each month, subscribers to the Arcana would receive a “little paper package” of loose-leaf pages—one to four illustrations of animal (and occasionally plant) species with a few pages of text describing each one, says Paul Callomon, collections manager at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, which recently acquired this rare, complete set of the collection.

book owned by ANSP Ewell Sale Stewart Library
It was always Perry’s intention for his subscribers to compile the individual issues into a composite book, Callomon says. The copy depicted here is one of just 13 complete copies known to exist today.
“One of the...

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