Our specimens were found buried in dust in a drawer beneath the gallery stairs in Marischal College by Sandy Anderson in the winter of 1954-5.
The labels were written by William MacGillivray who was Professor of Natural History at Marischal from 1840 until his death in 1852. The exciting wording on the label is "presented by Mr. Audubon".
Audubon met MacGillivray in Edinburgh in 1831 when MacGillivray was curator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. The first volume of Birds of America was about to be published, and Audubon was desperately seeking a collaborator to help him write the text to accompany the illustrations. Audubon realised that both his grasp of English and his knowledge of taxonomy were too poor for him to write the text himself. He engaged MacGillivray to revise his notes for him on a straightforward commercial basis; this arrangement developed into a deep and lasting friendship between the two men that changed the history of ornithology in Amercia and Britain. MacGillivray essentially wrote all of Audubon's notes. Presumably these specimens in our collection are some of those used by MacGillivray and Audubon in Edinburgh in writing the Ornithological Biographies.
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