"Our Cats" by Harrison Weir 
We recently participated in #MuseumCats Day on Twitter and this involved a quick search through our holdings for some interesting pictures of cats to Tweet and what a gem we have found! Please enjoy this selection of wonderful and [in some cases] bizarre illustrations of cats from the book "Our Cats and all about them" written and illustrated by Harrison Weir in 1889.
My personal favourites are the surreal disembodied heads [see above], "Sylvie" [she of the magnificent moustaches] and the Russian cat who [in my opinion] has a most unsettling human expression.
Weir was a very interesting character; he was born in 1824 on May 5th [d.1906], and is known as "The Father of the Cat Fancy”. He organizied the first ever cat show in England, at The Crystal Palace, London in July 1871 where he and his brother served as judges. In 1887 he founded the National Cat Club and was its first President and Show Manager until his resignation in 1890. Our Cats was the first published pedigree cat book.
Weir was employed, for many years, as a draughtsman and engraver for the Illustrated London News as well as many other publications and in his lifetime he both wrote and illustrated other books such as The Poetry of Nature (1867), Every Day in the Country (1883) and Animal Studies, Old and New (1885). In 1845 he exhibited his first painting at the British Institution and during his career he was an occasional exhibitor at the Royal Academy.
He was a keen animal fancier, an experienced breeder of cats, carrier pigeons, and poultry and for thirty years often acted as a judge at the principal pigeon and poultry shows. In 1903 he wrote and illustrated the exhaustive book Our Poultry and All About Them.
More information on Harrison Weir via the following links:
This book was bequeathed to the Library back in May 1916 along with around 500 other books by the Welsh artist, champion of Wales’ cultural heritage and one of the founding fathers of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Thomas Henry Thomas.
Along with the books, Thomas also bequeathed his entire catalogue of prints, drawings and watercolours to the Museum.
More information on Thomas Henry Thomas here:
The illustration above appeares in the Chapter "Performing cats". Other chapters include, "Cats as tormentors", "Dead cats", "Fishing cats" and "Lovers of cats" [would you believe... Cardinal Richelieu?].
This book is available to view electronically via the following Project Gutenberg link:
Biographical information on Harrison Weir taken from Wikipedia.
All photographs in this post taken by the author.
Myfyrwyr o Oman yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd
Mae dwy fyfyrwraig blwyddyn olaf mewn bywydeg ac amddiffyn cnydau o Brifysgol Sultan Qaboos, Oman wedi cyrraedd Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd ar gyfer pythefnos o brofiad gwaith i ddysgu mwy am nodi dau grŵp o bryfed, pryfed a chwilod a'r technegau a ddefnyddiwn i’w hastudio. Dyma’r tro cyntaf i Sara Mohamed Ahmed Al Ansari a Salma Saif Salmin Almabsli deithio y tu allan i Oman. Ar ôl y pythefnos yma, byddent yn treulio pythefnos arall yn yr Amgueddfa Hanes Natur, Llundain i ehangu eu gwybodaeth o dechnegau tacsonomig cyn dychwelyd at y cynhesrwydd yn Oman.
I Spy...Nature Exhibition is open
Saturday 19th July saw the official launch of the 'I Spy...Nature' Exhibition at National Museum Cardiff. The exhibition was officially opened by BBC wildlife presenter Dr Rhys Jones and many families were able to experience the exhibition first hand. Natural Science curators were also on hand showing a plethora of specimens from the Museum's Natural History Collections, including insects, marine invertebrates, fossils, fungi, plants, minerals and much more. The public helped to create fantastic modern and prehistoric scenes with beautifully coloured pictures.
Gwyddonwyr Gwych Cymru
O’r chwe deg naw o ysgolion o Gymru a gymerodd ran yn ymchwiliad Bylbiau’r Gwanwyn i Ysgolion eleni, dyfarnwyd y wobr gyntaf i Ysgol Clocaenog o Sir Ddinbych.
Dyma’r Gwyddonwyr Gwych lwcus yn ennill trip llawn hwyl i Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru lle dyma nhw’n dysgu am Stori Llechi, yn chwilio am fwystfilod bach ac yn adeiladu nythod anferth yn y chwarel!
Athro’r Ardd: “Dyma Ysgol Clogaenog yn gwneud gwaith gwych ar gyfer ymchwiliad Bylbiau’r Gwanwyn a nhw anfonodd y mwyaf o ddata tywydd o bob ysgol yng Nghymru! Roedd y gystadleuaeth yn gryf wrth i ysgolion wella eu sgiliau casglu ac anfon data bob blwyddyn. Roedd yn braf cael cwrdd â Gwyddonwyr Gwych Ysgol Clocaenog, a dyma ni’n cael llawer o hwyl yn adeiladu nythod ac yn esgus bod yn adar bach! Dyma ni hefyd yn dysgu llawer am Lechi, a dwi’n credu taw fy hoff foment i o’r diwrnod oedd hollti’r llechi!”
Os hoffech chi gymryd rhan yn y project hwn y tymor nesaf, llenwch y ffurflen gais ar-lein:
Cystadleuaeth Darlunio Cennin Pedr 2014
Llongyfarchiadau i enillwyr y gystadleuaeth Darlunio Cennin Pedr 2014! Dyma’u darluniau botanegol gwych.
- 1af: Abbey – Ysgol Eglwys Plwyf Coppull
- 2il: Louise – Ysgol Gynradd SS Philip a James CE (Pinc 3)
- 3ydd: Amelie – Ysgol Gynradd Stanford in the Vale CE
Roeddwn i’n chwilio am ddarluniau botanegol – sef darluniau o blanhigion mewn arddull wyddonol. Yn ogystal â thynnu llun gwych, roedd angen labelu gwahanol rannau’r blodyn yn glir hefyd.
Roedd pob un o’r darluniau a dderbyniais i yn wych, felly gallwch chi eu gweld nhw i gyd ar y wefan! Da iawn bawb.
Gallwch chi weld y darluniau i gyd yma.
Diolch yn fawr,
Overcoming the Taxonomic Impediment in the Amazon
It is well known that the Amazon rainforests are amongst the most biodiverse places on the planet. However, much of this biodiversity remains completely unknown having never been formally described and with absolutely no knowledge of the ecological and other conditions required for its survival. This profound lack of scientific knowledge arises from what is called the Taxonomic Impediment - there simply are too few taxonomists (people who can identify and describe living things) to get to grips with the magnitude of biodiversity. The Taxonomic Impediment is a world-wide problem as taxonomists themselves have become endangered species and few, if any, countries now devote sufficient resources to biodiversity research. There are many unfortunate knock-ons from this fact; for example designing rational conservation strategies is difficult without knowledge of the animals and plants that live in an area and some knowledge of why. It is only taxonomists who can deliver this knowledge.
In the Brazilian Amazon the situation is improving with a major research institute Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) now conducting extensive taxonomic research and training a new generation of taxonomists to lead in future biodiversity studies. One such trainee is Josenir Camara, a PhD student at INPA now spending 6 months as an intern at Amgueddfa Cymru under the tutelage of Dr Adrian Plant (Principle Curator, Entomology). Josenir’s research is describing the diversity of a group of aquatic flies (Hemerodromiinae). She has already discovered more than 50 new species, and using sophisticated cladistic techniques to understand more of their evolutionary relationships with related forms elsewhere in the world. The Museum’s extensive collections and taxonomic skills will be an invaluable aid to develop her research and the expertise and experience she develops will be lasting benefits she will take home to Brazil. A small but positive contribution to removing the Taxonomic Impediment in her own country.
Bylbiau'r Gwanwyn i Ysgolion: Canlyniadau 2005-2014
Mae project ‘Bylbiau'r Gwanwyn i Ysgolion’ yn gyfle i filoedd o wyddonwyr ysgol weithio gydag Amgueddfa Cymru i archwilio newid yn yr hinsawdd a'i ddeall.
Ers mis Hydref 2005, mae gwyddonwyr ysgol wedi bod yn cadw cofnod o'r tywydd a phryd mae eu blodau'n agor, fel rhan o astudiaeth hirdymor o effeithiau'r tymheredd ar fylbiau'r gwanwyn.
Mae tystysgrifau wedi cael eu hanfon at yr holl ddisgyblion yn 4,075 a gwblhaodd y prosiect eleni.
Mae rhagor o fanylion yn adroddiadau Athro'r Ardd neu gallwch chi lawrlwytho'r daenlen i astudio'r patrymau!
- Gwnewch siartiau amlder a graffiau i ganfod y cymedrau.
A wnaeth blodau agor yn hwyr mewn ysgolion oedd yn cofnodi tywydd oer?
Sut wnaeth tymheredd, heulwen a glaw effeithio ar ddyddiadau blodeuo ar gyfartaledd?
Chwiliwch am dueddiadau mewn gwahanol lefydd yng Nghymru.
Diolch yn fawr
From Amazonian Rainforest to Welsh Rain!
Brazilian PhD student Josenir Camara is working with Dr Adrian Plant, Principle Curator of Entomology at Amgueddfa Cymru, on a three-year project to describe some of the diversity of Diptera (flies) inhabiting the rainforest of Brazil’s Amazon Basin. The two researchers have already made numerous collecting expeditions to remote parts of the Amazon, but now they are both back in Cardiff where Josenir will spend the next six months studying at the Museum. As a part of her research she will describe all the Amazonian species of a group of water-inhabiting flies known as Hemerodromia. She already has more than 50 species that are completely new to science and once these have been formally described, the next task is to construct an evolutionary tree showing how the Amazonian Hemerodromia have diversified in respect to Hemerodromia elsewhere in the world. This is where Amgueddfa Cymru comes in as our extensive collections will provide her with an invaluable resource she can use to compare how Amazonian species differ from others. By careful comparison of ‘characters’ of each species and using sophisticated computing methods, Josenir will construct a ‘phylogenetic tree’ to illustrate the sequence of evolutionary changes that have occurred. By comparing the evolutionary tree with the fossil record, geological and climatic history it is hoped that we start to learn more about the biogeography of the Amazon (biogeography is the study of how species and communities or organisms become distributed both geographically and through geologic time).
The following photographs are from the book, Twelve new designs of English butterflies, by Benjamin Wilkes [published in 1742]. This rare work consists solely of twelve engraved plates each depicting geometric arrangements of both butterflies and moths. Wilkes produced this profoundly beautiful work as member of the Aurelian Society. Aurelian is an archaic word for lepidopterist [one who is interested in butterflies]; the term is derived from aurelia, meaning chrysalis, and relates to the golden colour it may attain just before the butterfly emerges.
The Society of Aurelians [London], one of the oldest organized bodies of specialists in any branch of zoology. The group collected and documented insects from the 1690s but came to an abrupt end in March 1748. While members of the society were in a meeting in the Swan Tavern, a great fire broke out in Cornhill and enveloped them. All the members escaped, but their entire collection, library, and records were destroyed. This event was documented by Moses Harris in The Aurelian; or, Natural History of English Insects (1765). The loss disheartened the group so much that they never managed to regroup again…Aurelian societies were formed several times in Britain [most notable 1762 and 1801], but each time they collapsed.
…Benjamin Wilkes was an 18th-century artist and naturalist whose profession was 'painting of History Pieces and Portraits in Oil'. When a friend invited him to a meeting of the Aurelian Society, where he first saw specimens of butterflies and moths, he became convinced that nature would be his 'best instructor' as to colour and form in art. He began to study entomology spending his leisure time collecting, studying and drawing the images larvae, pupae and parasitic flies of Lepidoptera, assisted by the collector Mr Joseph Dandridge. Wilkes' own collection was kept 'against the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street' London 'Where any gentleman or lady' could see his collection of insects [Wikipedia].
Our holdings of other Aurelian books include:
The English Lepidoptera: or, the Aurelian's pocket companion: containing a catalogue of upward of four hundred moths and butterflies ... / Moses Harris 
The aurelian. a natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. Also .../ Moses Harris 
English moths and butterflies… Benjamin Wilkes  This work ran to three editions of which the last, incorporating Linnaean nomenclature, was published in 1824
The British Aurelian: twelve new designs of British Butterflies and Directions for making a collection, with an essay by R.S. Wilkinson / Benjamin Wilkes, R.S. Wilkinson 
All photographs in this post taken by the author
The nest of Peregrine falcons in the clock tower appears to have failed, due to unknown causes sometime during the last week or so. However, after an absence of several days, both birds are showing renewed interest in the nest-site. Today has seen considerable activity with one bird visiting the nest several times and apparently busying itself tidying the interior while the other bird of the pair watched from close by. Although peregrines only have one brood each year, if the first brood is lost at an early stage they sometimes re-lay a second clutch, either in the original nest, or perhaps more often, at a nearby site. We now watch, wait and hope that a new clutch of eggs will be laid sometime in the near future and that these magnificent falcons will have more success the second time around.