During the past two weeks I worked in Brussels on a SYNTHESYS grant. My goal was to complete my study of ‘autographs’ in the Dautzenberg archives, but it ended up in doing much more.
First a recap on Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935). Who was he and why is it important to know? Biographies of his life have been published shortly after his death (Lamy 1935, Pelseneer 1936), as well as more recently (Leloup 1967, Duchamps 1986, Vanwalleghem 1986). During ca. 70 years he brought together an enormous collection of about 4.500.000 specimens through exchanges, gifts, and purchases. E.g., parts of the collections of Ancey, Bavay and other were purchased when after their death their collections were auctioned or became on sale. Around the turn of the 19/20th century his collection was well-known and many conchologists, both amateurs and professionals, wrote to him or visited him in Paris. After his death the greater part of his collection came to Brussels, his place of birth, but parts of the collection are in Monaco and London.
The autograph collection provides handwritings of malacologists – both well-known and less-known – that are interesting to see and might be helpful to compare with collection labels to authenticate the writer. Also some letters were interesting from a biohistorical point of view. While working through the correspondence I wondered to what extent a shift had taken place during Dautzenberg’s active period (1866–1935, with publications from 1880–1933) between ‘amateurs’ and ‘professionals’. It is worth noting that Dautzenberg himself was an ‘amateur’, i.e. not connected to a museum or institution, although he was very active in the Paris local malacological community (with Crosse, Fischer, Jousseaume and others).
In the archives I also found some additional objects, viz. two ledgers in which Dautzenberg had kept a list of contacts to whom he sent his reprints, an address book, and his collection of reprints with a catalogue on index cards. These resources opened up the opportunity to reconstruct the contact network by combining both the information from the ledgers and the autographs, and check the reprint collection.
I ended up with a list of 480 persons who had either received from, sent to, or exchanged with Dautzenberg reprints (his ‘active contacts’); of course there were more people listed in his address book or had a letter preserved in the autograph collection. For all 480 persons the country of origin (with France divided into ‘Paris’ and ‘other regions’), and their status (‘amateur’ or ‘professional’) was determined, together with a period of first contact (1881-1898, 1900-1914, or past-1915). This allowed me to conclude the majority of his contacts were European (84%). Within Europe the majority (58%) was within France.
Looking to the balance between ‘amateurs’ and ‘professionals’ one can see a marked shift through time:
Of course these preliminary results need some careful contextual interpretation and analyses will continue. But I found these graphs interesting enough to share them with you.
Duchamps, R., 1986. Philippe Dautzenberg. – Apex 1 (2): 47–66.
Lamy, E., 1935. Nécrologie. Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935). – Journal de Conchyliologie 79: 183–203.
Leloup, E., 1967. Dautzenberg (Philippe). – Biographie Nationale (Bruxelles) 34: 198–202.
Pelseneer, P., 1936. Philippe Dautzenberg. – Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique 66: 87–91.
Vanwalleghem, R., 1986. Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935), Belgische conchylioloog met internationale faam. – Strandvlo 6 (2): 31–47.