In this case, knowledge that has been lost (or never gathered). So, what did I find out at the Hunterian in Glasgow with regard to Thomas Algernon Chapman? Well…
I went to deepen my knowledge of Chapman and his collection. I went to compare the Hunterian’s material with our own. I went to find out more about Chapman’s dad. I managed to do all three; however, as questions were answered, many more came to light. The problem at the Hunterian is that they’re not sure whether the specimens belonged to Chapman or his dad. The Chapman objects also seem to be stored amongst other material, leading to more confusion.
There were some labels by the insects saying ‘Baillieston’. This is an area of Glasgow. What does it mean? We know that’s not where Chapman’s dad lived. All over the material that we are sure is associated with Chapman, is the name ‘Scott-Maxwell’. Geoff wasn’t sure who this was. After looking through all the material and photographing it, I researched ‘Scott-Maxwell’. It turns out that he was an engineer born in Glasgow who inherited the Baillieston Estate at a young age. I found no links to natural history, however. At this stage we can only assume that John Maxwell Scott-Maxwell (that really was his full name!) was a collector of sorts and had some examples of Chapman’s collection (either the father’s or the son’s) along with other people’s material.
The good news is that the specimens in Glasgow are what I’d expect to find considering where both Chapmans went travelling. The Hereford collection is global with a heavy emphasis on South American beetles; I have yet to find articles, reports or papers that discuss Chapman going there. In contrast, the Hunterian holds French, Swiss, Scandinavian and Spanish material; I have evidence of both Chapman senior and junior visiting these places.
The biggest lead I got is thanks to Geoff and the Hunterian’s fantastic collection of books. After expanding a little on the Chapman material I discovered that Chapman had communicated with the curator of the Hope Collection in Oxford. Geoff then handed me a book which lists the Hope’s entire entomology collection along with collectors and donors! There it was: a short list of specimens the Hope has, as donated by Thomas Algernon Chapman. Finally: an institution with a written record of Chapman’s (multiple) donations. Next stop: Oxford (maybe)!