Here’s an example of a recent acquisition that looks like a book, but isn’t:

These four book-shaped boxes are really an advertisement for the goods and services that could be purchased, in 1867, from the London mineralogist James R. Gregory. (Click on images for larger views)


They complement our nineteenth-century scientific collections, even though there is no specific link to Amherst College. By this time period, the college’s own natural history collections were already impressive:


One interesting piece of trivia: In 1868, the year after he published our example, Mr. Gregory traveled to South Africa to investigate claims that diamonds were beginning to be found there. His trip was paid for by a London diamond merchant named Harry Emanuel. In December of 1868, Gregory’s opinion was published in the Geological Magazine: “The geological character of that part of the country renders it impossible, with the knowledge we at present possess of the diamond-bearing rocks, that any could have been really discovered there. … I can now only conclude by expressing my conviction that the whole diamond discovery in S. Africa is an imposture–a Bubble scheme.”¹ Apparently, for a long time after this in South Africa, any blunder or tall tale was called “a gregory.”²

¹Gregory, James R., “Diamonds from the Cape of Good Hope,” in Geological Magazine, vol. 5, no. 12 (Dec. 1868), 558-561.

²”Gregory,” A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles (Oxford University Press, 1996), 266.

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