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Sponsor A Fish

Recherches vol 4, 02
Drawing of Holocentrum Leo by Joseph Dinkel, c.1832-1833, from the Jardin des Plantes, Paris. 

Over £11,000 has been raised so far from donations from our Fellows, Friends and other generous individuals, towards the Library’s project to preserve the drawings and watercolours of fossil fish associated with the research of the Swiss naturalist Jean Louis Rudolphe Agassiz (1807-1873). 

The Geological Society’s collection

Cecilie Ag
Tooth of Notidanus primigenius Agassiz, by Cécilie Braun, later Agassiz's first wife, 1832. From the collection of her brother Alexander Braun.

Louis Agassiz’s aim was to record all fossil fish species which were known at the time. The lavishly illustrated publications ‘Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles’ and its follow up 'Monographie des Poissons Fossiles du Vieux Grès Rouge' were the result, issued in separate livraisons between 1833 and 1845.  

The original artwork for the publications came to the Society in four accessions between 1843 and 1881. The first was donated in 1843 when Lord Francis Leveson-Gower (1800-1857), later 1st Earl of Ellesmere, purchased the artwork for ‘Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles’ directly from Agassiz for £500. The second part was given to the Society in 1858 by Agassiz himself and consists mostly of unpublished material. A third donation came from the Earl of Enniskillen (1807-1886) in 1876 and the final from Sir Philip Egerton (1806-1881) in 1881.

We still need your help

Your donations have funded the conservation and digitisation of two thirds of the collection, including the artwork for Agassiz’s five volume publication ‘Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles’ (published 1833-1844) and two of the unpublished folios.

Amongst the material which still requires conservation and digitisation is the artwork for 'Monographie des Poissons Fossiles du Vieux Grès Rouge' (published 1844-1845). The watercolours and drawings depict some of the earliest forms of fish from the Old Red Sandstone which were being discovered from the mid-1830s onwards in Scotland.

If you would like to help the Library with this project, for £20 you can Sponsor a Fish, which will allow us to carefully clean, conserve and digitise one of the images. The names of all sponsors will be included in a roll of honour in the Archive and on our website. 

Contributions can be sent by cheque made payable to ‘The Geological Society’, or call +44 (0)20 7432 0999 to pay by card.

Roll of Honour

The Library gratefully acknowledges all those who have donated towards the Sponsor A Fish appeal

Fossil fish

Online Exhibition

Visit the exhibition for a closer look at the more unusual items in the collection, from a fossil tooth to a pencil rubbing of a scale, and find out about the history of their discovery, Agassiz's interpretations, the various collectors they belonged to and the artists who carried out the work.

Fundraising regulator