Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
George Lyell, an Australian of Scottish descent, was born at Ararat,
Victoria, on July 25, 1866. He died in Gisborne, Vic, in 1951.
He had no special interest in natural history in his early youth. It was in 1888 that his thoughts first turned seriously to insect collecting when, at Albert Park, Victoria (a favorite collecting place in those times), he captured his first butterfly, a specimen of the well-known Caper White, Anaphaeis java teutonia.
He joined the Field Naturalists club shortly after. He became an avid collector of butterflies and moths. He also developed a fascination with Australian orchids, and contributed may specimens to Australian herbaria.
Soon he came up against that nightmare of all insect collectors, young and old - how to provide adequate storage room for the collection. For a while he had to be content with storeboxes, some good, and some not so good. He then conceived the idea of making small insect cabinets of only six drawers each, and of such a design that the units could be fitted together to make a larger cabinet, on the same principle as a sectional bookcase, He then aimed at the ob- jective of increasing his cabinet space by one of these six-drawer cabinets every year, and so successful was the idea, and so thorough the collecting, that at the time he commenced transferring his collection to the Museum in 1932 he had more than 300 cabinet drawers filled with Australian butterflies and moths.
The last census of the Lyell collection, in July, 1938, showed 48,468 specimens, representing 5315 species, all Australian. In this there were 393 type specimens named by such world famous authorities as Turner, Meyrick, Prout and Lower.
The Lyell collection of Australian butterflies and moths has now been moved from his home in Gisborne, ‘Victoria, to the National Museum, Melbourne, completed in 1946, and it is being placed on public exhibition in the main hall, one section at a time.
From: 'Lyell Collection of Butterflies and Moths: Gift to Nation' by R. T. M. Pescott, Director National Museum of Victoria
Source: Extracted from: WILD LIFE, May, 1946. Page 170
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: WILD LIFE, May, 1946. Page 170.
Data from 245 specimens