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This site provides supporting material published in Geiger (2003: Archives of Natural History 30: 74-85). Permission for the on-line reproduction of the published material was kindly granted by the Society for the History of Natural History.

A pdf-version of the entire catalog can be downloaded from the facsimile section of the publications portion of this website.

(based on Geiger [2003])

The Lichtenstein family consisted of several well-known naturalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth century stemming from the lineage of a converted rabbi, who was baptized in 1626. Anton August Heinrich Lichtenstein (1753-1816) was a doctor of theology and philosophy, professor of oriental languages, and from 1782 onwards principal of the famous Johanneum in Hamburg (founded 1529 and still an elite high school today: Darnstädt, 2001). He was also an out-of-town member of the Gesellschaft der Naturforschenden Freunde in Berlin (preface to 1793 catalog). He was a library assistant (1794-1796) and the director (1796-1798) of the public library of Hamburg. In 1798 he was appointed professor at the University Helmstädt. His brother (?) Georg Rudolph Lichtenstein (1745-1807) was a physician and became an associate professor (ausserordentlicher Professor) at the University Helmstädt (Poggendorff, 1863). He is noted for his considerable herbarium of over 45,000 specimens. One of A. A. H. Lichtenstein's sons, Martin Heinrich Karl Lichtenstein (1780-1857), was a well known ornithologist and held positions as a professor of zoology at the University of Berlin as well as the director of the Zoological Museum of Berlin. In his honor Lichtensteinia Willdenow (1808, nomen rejectum), Lichtensteinia Wendland (1808, nomen rejectum) [Dicotylodinacea: Loranthaceae], and Lichtensteinia Chamisso & Schlechtendahl (1826) [Dicotylodinacea: Apiaceae] were named (Stafleu & Cowan, 1981; Brummitt, 1992). His other son, August Gerhard Gottfried Lichtenstein (1780-1851), produced an index of plant genera (Goodman, 1882; Junk, 1900-1913; Meise and Stesemann, 1950). The importance of the work of the Lichtenstein dynasty is witnessed by the 36 species epithets for animals described in their honor listed in Sherborn (1922).

A. A. H. Lichtenstein was charged by the Bolten family to supervise jointly with Peter Friedrich Röding the production of the sales catalog of Bolten's collection, the Museum Boltenianum of Röding (1798) (Dance, 1966). Lichtenstein previously had written a series of three sales catalogs that included several species descriptions; in 1793 one on mammals and birds, in 1794 one on shells, and in 1796 one on insects.

Recently, Scott Jordan kindly sent relevant pages out of Junk's (1930) book. The section on Lichtenstein is worth quoting in whole [translated from the German original: p. 37], although the section does not mention the late 1700 sales catalogs:

"In a certain respect an other work belongs to this 'cryptogame' literature; and I am happy, this time to be able to present in my sketch a particular person from Berlin (or did he only live here?) as an author, in addition a man, whose bust we can admire in our Zoological Garden as a predecessor of Heck, when we saunter a bit away from beer and saussages. Heinrich Lichtenstein was his name, and - originally a medical doctor - he worked as professor in zoology in the first half of the century. After him is the Lichtensteinallee [= Lichtenstein boulevard] and the Lichtenstein Bridge named, which in 1919 received historical fame. He edited in 1823 a "Verzeichnis der Doubletten des Zoologischen Museums" [List of douplicates of the Zoological Museum], a common sales catalog with added prices (as an aside, I have added, that the 1482 animals offered in it - mostly african and south american - cost only 4480 Taler [= pounds as currency], although there were some very impressive ones among them). So, such a catalog one naturally throws away shortly thereafter. This happened also with this one. But much later only Science discovered its high value. Because under the commercial title, important description of new animals are hidden from the pen of this famous zoologist. Now copies of this price list are highly paid. Two earlier such catalogs, of which Lichtenstein wrote, that he edited them between 1818 and 1823, are so rare that I have never seen then. Even the British Museum (which has most likely the most richest natural science library) does not possess them and only has the three later ones. That is such a work, oh you bibliophiles, that you may find once on a book cart for 50 pennies."

(based on Geiger [2003])

The series of catalogs were produced for an auction of an important collection of natural history objects. The person whose collection was sold was not mentioned, but must have been a significant collector. He is described as a member of the "Batavischen" (old name for Jakarta, Indonesia) as well as other natural science societies, who had obtained a large quantity of specimens from all over the world (Lichtenstein, 1794: front cover). The collection could be attributed through other sources to L. F. Holthuisen, a wealthy collector from Amsterdam (Meise and Stresemann, 1950); the whereabouts of the specimens from that collection are currently unknown, with some selected exceptions (Sherborn, 1899, Junk, 1900-1913, Kerzhner, 1994). The catalog was printed by Gottfried Friedrich Schniebes in Hamburg, and the auctions were executed by Johann Hinrich Schöen (mammals and birds, shells) and Peter Hinrich Packischefsky (insects) at the Eimbeck's House.

The preface is written in Latin and in German printed on facing pages. The texts are identical, although the phrasing varies slightly in the two versions. The following quotes are all translated from the German text. Lichtenstein was careful to point out that he followed the new system of zoological nomenclature referring to "Gmelin's edition of the Linnean natural system" (Lichtenstein, 1793: 5), and "the Linnean system according to Gmelin's latest edition" (Lichtenstein, 1794: 5). Because the publication series was a sales catalog, the particularly rare and remarkable specimens were highlighted with a single, two, or even three exclamation marks, which was pointed out by Lichtenstein in the first volume (Lichtenstein, 1793: 3) in the series in the preface, but was omitted in the 1794 catalog on the shells: "so has one then indicated the most noticeable pieces, that they stand out even better, with an adjacent exclamation mark."

The remainder of the catalogs are written predominantly in German; only significant passages and the descriptions of the new taxa are given in Latin. Here, too, the contents are mostly identical, although some ambiguities in one language may be resolved through comparison to the other.

The first catalog on mammals and birds was published in 1793 and comprised 60 pages, including ten pages of introductory remarks. Eighteen lots of mammals and 508 lots of birds were listed, with the seven lots of cabinets also being offered for sale. The new taxa described comprised one mammal and 38 birds. Note that Junk (1900-1913) overlooked the new mammalian species (Sciurus namaquensis Lichtenstein, 1793). The Willughby Society reprinted the catalog in 1882 in two similar editions, one including a short preface by Goodman (1882), the other with a preface by Tegetmeier (1882: fide Zimmer, 2005).

The second catalog on shells and minerals was published in 1794. It was almost twice as long with 118 pages, of which seven were reserved for the preface. It is structured into several parts. The largest section on shells included two shorter subsections on Multivalvia (barnacles, gooseneck barnacles: lots 1-6) and Bivalvia (bivalves, clams: lots 7-332). A new count was started for subsection Univalvia (snails: lots 1-1327). Miscellaneous lots were added at the end of the catalog, including skulls and feet of several birds (lots 1-9), a "comb lizard" (lot 10), three fishes (lots 11-13), a vertebra of a whale (lot 14), two bezoars (lots 15-16), three lots with pressed plants and wood samples (lots 17-19), and five clothing items made of natural materials (lots 20-24). Lots 25-63, 71-97, and 112-113 offered various minerals, and intercalated were seven lots of amber (lots 64-70) and 14 lots of fossils (lots 98-111).

The third catalog on insects from 1796 is the most extensive. It contains 3271 species including approximately 560 new species and four new genera (see Kerzhner, 1994, for details). A second edition was published in 1797, most likely because much material remained unsold in the first auction (Poggendorff, 1863; Sherborn, 1899).

The standing of this series of three catalogs in zoological nomenclature is variable. The mammalian and bird catalog is well-known and considered valid. The insect catalog has been placed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature on the list of rejected works with preservation of selected taxa (Opinion 641: ICZN, 1962; Opinion 1820: ICZN, 1995). The mollusk catalog had been overlooked until recently, except for some occasional listings in nomenclators and similar compilations. Sherborn (1902), Pickery (1991), Prado and Abreu (1993), and Ubaldi (1993) listed some taxa; Wagner and Abbott (1978) listed one species as 'Undetermined species'.It was known that some molluscan taxa had been described in that catalog, but the identity and the status of these taxa was impossible to assess without reference to the actual work.

Lichtenstein's molluscan catalog (1794) is an exceedingly rare item. It is not mentioned by Dance (1966). Junk (1900-1913) gave no further description of the second volume, because he could not locate a single copy. The copy at the Natural History Museum in London from the collection of Joseph Banks (1743-1820) is missing from the shelf (Geiger, pers. obs.), but a microfilm made from the BMNH copy was discovered in the library of the University of California at Berkeley (Banks signature in volume]. The discovery led to a first evaluation of the taxon Haliotis clathrata Lichtenstein, 1794, a senior homonym of H. clathrata Reeve, 1846. Geiger and Stewart (1998) petitioned the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to suppress H. clathrata Lichtenstein in order to preserve the well-known senior homonym H. clathrata Reeve, as well as its well-known senior synonym H. elegans Philippi, 1848. Case 3036 has been approved by the Commission under Opinion 1950 (ICZN, 2000). Lichtenstein's molluscan catalog as such has not been suppressed and is a valid work for the purpose of nomenclature.

Here I provide an assessment of all 15 descriptions of new molluscan taxa from the sales catalog and discuss their identity. All of Lichtenstein's taxa (except for Haliotis clathrata Lichtenstein: see above) have been overlooked by molluscan workers. Most of the taxa are not identifiable (nomina dubia) with known species and thus do not threaten any names in current usage. The exceptions are discussed for each of Lichtenstein's new species. All names other than H. clathrata Lichtenstein, remain available and may be senior synonyms or homonyms.


The translation of the German and Latin text was carried out with the goal of preserving as much of the original language as possible. As a consequence the English will in places be akward, stilted, and odd sounding, but provides the original spirit with the least inference from interpretation. I have tried to use modern conventions for literature citations and punctuation. Citations: Most citations were given by Lichtenstein in an abbreviated style. I have elected to give full modern format. For instance "Gmelin sp. 56" is translated to Gmelin (1791: sp. 56).

For the binomens, the genus names were not italicized and the species epithets were capitalized by Lichtenstein (Voluta Vexillum). In the translation the entire binomen is italicized and the species epithets are spelled in lower case: Voluta vexillum. "Dito" is translated as "one of the above". Some translations are tentative and those are marked by "[?]".

For each species the approximate distribution has been indicated. I will provide an indication as to the provenance of the shells in the 18th century. The systematic index cross-references the Lichtenstein species according to the current classification.

Clarifying annotations have been added if the meaning of the word is not apparent from the context. For instance the word "date" for the German "Dattel" is clarified with [= fruit] so that it can not be confused with the calendar indication.

If you can provide some clarifications on some of the species or some of the translations,
please send me an e-mail.


The catalog pages were photocopied from the microfilm available from University of California, Berkeley, USA, the photocopies were scanned at 1200 dpi, cleaned in Photoshop (levels, noise & despecle, manual erasing: masterfiles), and batch processed to fit on one printed page (US letter or A4) at 72 dpi. Some ink blotches, smears, and other print irregularities were mended through erasing, but no pixels were added. The masterfiles are available upon request (2 CD-ROMs). This site was constructed in Dreamweaver 2.


Scott Jordan (La Habra Heights, California) kindly provided several sources of supporting material on the Lichtenstein dynasty as well as the two editions of the 1882 reprint of the bird catalog. Paul Valentich-Scott (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History) assisted with bivalve terminology. Christine Thacker (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) critically read the manuscript. The referees and the editor provided further assistance to improve this contribution.

My apologies to Scott Jordan, whose last name I completly misrepresented in the print paper.

Additional help, suggestions, corrections and comments were provided by Gary Rosenberg, Rüdiger Bieler, Scott Jordan, Niko Malchus, Thomas Eichhorst [various Nerita spp IDs], and Alan Kabat.

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