Read selected extracts from the notebooks of the most famous natural history illustrators working in Sydney in the last decades of the 19th century...
[Drawing] no 97
Larva, female, found on a rose. Sydney, 16 September, 1839. Of a bright gay colour, on the shoulder four hairy tufts & one on the tail. Between these, two fleshy red spikes, antennae long & hairy, ended by a black patch. Insect hairy and with red feet. Drawing of exact size & appearance. FS
[Drawing] no 98
Chrysalis of 97. Short & dumpy, yellowish ? tinged with brown & covered with short yellow hairs. Black spot on each annulation. Turned to a chrysalis 18 Sept 39.
[Drawing] no 99
Nest of the foregoing. Of a light brownish silky white thro' which the cocoon & yellow chrysalis could be seen. 18 September 1839. FS
[Drawing] no 100
Female insect ? -- of a round thickish form, covered with light brown hairs all over. Tail sharp and pointed and moves continually. Six feet in the front. Antennae very small. Insect crawls very slowly. It changed from the chrysalis 23 Sept 39. Drawing of exact size and appearance. FS
[Drawing] no 150
Chrysalis of the male larva of which no 97 p.57 is the female. Chrysalis very small in comparison with that of the female. General colour brown with yellow wing cases, the whole fringed with yellow hairs. Drawing is of exact size. The larva was similar to that of the female but much smaller. Made its nest 17 October thin & transparent showing the chrysalis thro'. Chrysalis painted 23 Oct 39. FMS.
[Drawing no] 151
Moth of the above. Male of no 100 -- general colour of upper side of upper wings brown, banded transversely with darker & relieved with delicate white spots. Upper part of under wings bright yellow with a broad black band running parallel with the edges & leaving a yellow fringe. Legs feathery - antennae brown & feathery, like a reversed cap. This moth is small but very showy. Drawing of exact size & general appearance. Took wing on the 29th Oct 1839. FMS
Begun by AW Scott around 1839, the notebooks contain entries by all four Scott daughters (Fanny, Mary, Harriet and Helena). Earlier notebooks (such as this one) are closely connected to the sketches and drawings made as the family collected and observed butterflies and moths first in Sydney and later on Ash Island.
The notebooks show how the butterfly and moth project developed from these observational records and drawings into its more ambitious book form over a number of years. By the time Harriet and Helena took over the notebooks around the mid 1840s, the Australian Lepidoptera book seems to have been the much clearer focus of their efforts.
Photo: observational notes and drawings of the painted apple moth Teia anartoides (Lymantriidae) made in spring, 1839 by Frances Stirling, oldest step daughter of AW Scott.