Exhibitions Research

Curious Find – The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology


This Curious Find comes to us from our regular reader Mr Michael Gilligan who is studying the history of science.

The item is a ‘preview copy’ containing the complete text of the proposed book, but with only four of the proposed forty two plates. Plates 1, 2 and 3 are coloured, 7 is not.


The author’s ambition is clear from the notice:

“The present work, however, is proposed to be rather a pictorial illustration of the larger and more splendid species; and as such, it is hoped that by finding its way to the table of the Indian drawing room, it may gain additional converts to the study of a science full of curiosity, and awaken an interest in the objects of pursuit, this supplying an engaging occupation to our Indian friends.”

Mr Gilligan wonders “what the excellent Mr John Obadiah Westwood would think, if he saw the wealth of natural history programmes on our television and the wonderful collections of images that we can access through our browsers”.


The John Rylands Library has several more books by John Obadiah Westwood and if they are to the standard of this preview perhaps his illustrations would make further interesting Curious Finds.

Mr Gilligan also discovered a digital copy of the full book, including plate 7 coloured, at the following link though he stresses that the image quality does not compare:



If anyone would like to book in to see The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology please contact Reader Services at uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk

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