Article ID: CBB410787740

Could Siberian ‘Natural Curiosities’ Be Replaced? Bioprospecting in the Eighteenth-Century (2022)


This article focuses on three unique products circulating in the eighteenth-century marketplace – castor, mammoth tusks, and asbestos – and highlights the role of naturalists working for the Royal Society in London and at the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg in promoting the consumption of these goods. Naturalists’ scientific investigations of these products were essential to distinguish and identify the quality (and, correspondingly, the ideal price) of Siberian commodities as compared to similar, or even equivalent, commodities from other regions. When these products were later discovered in the British colonies, the scientific debates between London and St. Petersburg only gained a new urgency, inspiring arguments about authenticity and efficaciousness.

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Authors & Contributors
Craig R. Macadam
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Robert Rutkowski
Dominika Mierzwa-Szymkowiak
Hugh B. Feeley
Larsson, Eleanor
Archives of Natural History
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
William Collins
Yale Center for British Art
University of Chicago Press
University of California Press
Sydney University Press
Collectors and collecting
Biological specimens
Natural history
Banks, Joseph
Bolten, Joachim Friedrich
Godlewski, Wiktor
Vane-Wright, Richard I.
Jones, William
Röding, Peter Friedrich
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
20th century, early
17th century
20th century, late
20th century
London (England)
Great Britain
Hamburg (Germany)
Madrid (Spain)
St. Petersburg (Russia)
Royal Society of London
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
McGill University (Canada)
London Zoo
Natural History Museum (London, England)
Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk

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