David Young: Acquiring the Friedrich Tippmann Collection

The field of natural history dates back centuries and the works encompassed in its study provide a basis to analyze the world. In modern academia zoology, botany, and entomology are three categories of natural science, and each is subdivided into many fields. Modern researchers have made important discoveries, but their investigations are part of a larger story, the continuing history of science.

Insect from a woodcut plate in  Konrad von Megenberg's  "Buch der Natur."This exhibit features the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center's Friedrich F. Tippmann Collection of entomological literature housed in the Special Collections Research Center. The remarkable collection, acquired in 1959, has been called one of the last great European private collections in entomology. It contains many fine examples of pre-Linnean works including a fourteenth-century woodcut plate from Konrad von Megenberg's Buch der Natur and the legendary tenth edition of Carolus Linnaeus's Systema Nature, a book that established the use of binomial taxonomy in zoology. The nineteenth century was a critical point in the history of science. Natural history reached its zenith of popularity, and Darwin's Origin of the Species changed the way scientists and the public viewed not only biological phenomena, but philosophical and religious precepts were challenged as well.

Insect from a plate in "Histoire Naturelle des Insectes."The NCSU Libraries was fortunate to identify this collection through the efforts of NC State University entomology professor David Young. In 1957 Professor Young wrote a letter to Harlan C. Brown, then director of the NC State college library, informing him that an important personal library of entomological books was up for sale. Its owner, a Viennese engineer and amateur entomologist named Friedrich Tippmann, had earlier sold his collection of beetles to the Smithsonian. When Young saw that Tippmann's books were for sale, he recognized the name and advised the library to purchase the collection. After two years of negotiating, five crates of books finally arrived safely at the doors of the library. The Tippmann Collection and the Metcalf Collection, a collection donated to the libraries by retired entomology professor, Zeno Metcalf, form the basis of the libraries' excellent entomological collections.



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