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Examples from a large collection of sketches and drawings created by AW Scott and his daughters to record the appearance, habits and life cycles of the moths and butterflies they were collecting, rearing and classifying.

Psychidae moths
Original watercolour by Helena Scott. © Australian Museum Archives Image: Helena Scott
© Australian Museum

In the late 1830's, AW Scott and his stepdaughters Frances and Mary began recording their observations of moths and butterflies in a series of notebooks and referencing these to numbered sketches they made of the specimens. With the family's move to Ash Island, the project continued and eventually Scott's younger daughters Helena and Harriet joined in.

Life cycle sketch of Bombyx festiva Donovan
Composite sketch by Frances Stirling and Mary Scott of the life cycle of Bombyx festiva Donovan, numbers 253, 254, and 255 in the Scott family's second notebook (pp168,9), dated April to May 1840. Image: Frances Stirling and Mary Scott
© Australian Museum Archives

Each page is a composite of sketches made over time as the life cycle of the observed species progressed. Many sketches have pencilled notes and dates on the reverse, and some have references to Volumes 1 and 2 of AW Scott's published work on Lepidoptera. These particular sketches were probably used as a starting point for the beautiful plates created by Helena and Harriet for their father's publications.

Life cycle sketch of Tryphaena renigera Scott
Composite sketch by Helena Scott of the life cycle of Tryphaena renigera Scott, number 182 in the Scott family's third notebook (p.36), entry dated March to April 1847. © Australian Museum Image: James King
© Australian Museum Archives