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This book describes how this 'miscellany of the curious' fuelled the rage for Australian natural history amongst the upper classes of Europe, bringing income and, occasionally, fame to its collectors and documenters. In the colony itself, however, it contributed to wholesale destruction of animals and their habitats and, in some cases, led to their extinction.
The work is lavishly illustrated with early European images, most held in the National Library of Australia collection and some of which have never before been reproduced. Scattered throughout are fascinating and colourful descriptions of species from collectors' and naturalists' journals, showing how the scientific knowledge of Australian fauna evolved.