This Collection will become available in our March auction


A fine collectionof original illustrations for Henry J. Knipe's Nebula to Man, and Evolution in the Past, by Joseph Smit (24), Alice B. Woodward (13), and Charles Whymper (5), pen, ink and grey wash, some heightened in white, one ("Mammoth") in full colouring, on artist's pasteboard, most on original stiff paper mounts, some with tissue coverings, usually captioned (in ink or pencil) beneath image or on verso, some with additional notes and comments by Knipe, all with Knipe's name and address ("9 Linden Park, Tunbridge Wells") on verso, signed on the image by the artists, images approximately 275 x 195mm., c.1905 and 1912 (42)


  • Henry R. Knipe (1854-1918), a geologist from Tunbridge Wells in Sussex, was a member of the Linnean and Geological Societies. He wrote two works on palaeontology, Nebula to Man (1905), which was written in rhyming verse, and Evolution in the Past (1912). His obituary in Geological Magazine recorded that he devoted "much time and labour to the popularization of the study of extinct animals in this country. With the aid especially of the Staff of the British Museum... he attempted to portray the animals of the past as they appeared when living, and sparing no expense, he employed the most skilled artists to carry out his plans", specifically mentioning Joseph Smit and Alice B. Woodward.

    Dutch born Joseph Smit was one of the most successful Victorian natural history illustrators, contributing to works by John Gould, Daniel Elliot and Lord Lilford. Alice Woodward, perhaps better known as a children's book illustrator, was the daughter of Henry Woodward, keeper of the department of Geology at the British Museum, and President of the Palaeontographical Society from 1895 to 1921. Smit's twenty-four illustrations were all used in Nebula, whilst Woodward's thirteen were mostly for Evolution. The subjects include the Coryphodon, Hipparion, Iguanodon and Mososaurus, along with overviews of the Devonian and Permian periods (these six depicted by both Smits and Woodward); other images include the Mammoth (fully coloured by Smit), Triceratops, Brontops, Stegasaurus, Toxodon, Ichyosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Sabre tooth tiger.

    For a very detailed comparative study of Knipe's two works, their use of illustration, and role in promoting paleontography and the process of evolution in the popular mind, see Richard Somerset, 'Telling the Story of Life Twice: Henry Knipe and the Versification of Natural History', in La Poésie scientifique: de la gloire au déclin, Epistemocritique, edited by Louâpre, Marshal, and Pierssens, 2014.