Finders, Keepers by Stephen Jay Gould
Eight Collectors

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Most of us collect things, but seldom have entire collections been preserved.

A few that did survive have fallen, figuratively, into the clutches of two of America's most innovative minds: photographer Rosamond Wolff Purcell and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. What these collections say about the collectors, and about human beings in general, is the subject of this strangely beautiful and rich compendium. Here are Purcell's wonderfully exotic photographs of teeth and other human artifacts from the collection of Peter the Great; moles, pigs, and dogs from van Heurn's many boxes of perfectly preserved skins; and all manner of preserved life from Rothschild's Birds of Paradise to the fish of Agassiz. Here also is Gould at his best, delighting in the unusual and making connections to our own history and evolution that only the most fertile and whimsical mind could imagine - and that few will be able to resist. This is a book for those with a craving for beauty, knowledge, and a fascination with the unusual.

About Stephen Jay Gould

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Rosamond Purcell, the acclaimed author and photographer of the recently published Special Cases and Swift As A Shadow, has lent her unique photographs to books by Stephen Jay Gould and F. Gonzalez-Crussi. A regular contributor to The Sciences, her photographs have also appeared in Ms., Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly, Harvard Magazine, Omni, and many international publications. She lives in Massachusetts. Born in New York City in 1941, Stephen Jay Gould received his B.A. from Antioch College in New York in 1963. He received a Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia University in 1967 and has been a professor at Harvard University since then. He is also curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. His research has been mainly in the evolution and speciation of land snails. Gould is a leading proponent of the theory of punctuated equilibrium. This theory holds that few evolutionary changes occur among organisms over long periods of time, and then a brief period of rapid changes occurs before another long, stable period of equilibrium sets in. An outspoken advocate of the scientific outlook, Gould has been a vigorous defender of evolution against its creation-science opponents in popular magazines focusing on science. He writes a column for Natural History and has produced a remarkable series of books that display the excitement of science for the layperson.
Published September 17, 1992 by W. W. Norton & Company. 155 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Purcell's color photographs of historic collections of taxidermy, fossils and other exotic artifacts are accompanied by an essay by Gould.

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The Independent

As well as amassing trophies of the grotesque and the deformed, Peter the Great saved the teeth he extracted, by way of a hobby, from a number of his unfortunate subjects: 'a singer', 'a person who made tablecloths', 'a bishop of Rostov', 'a fast-walking messenger' - but not, as Gould notes, fast...

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