January 16 - March 2, 2007
The A. J. Carpenter Collection of Butterflies and Moths
A. J. Carpenter, a Boston architect from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, was an outstanding amateur lepidopterist who collected his first specimens as a child. While he collected many butterflies and moths himself, he also traded with other enthusiasts. Over the first half of the twentieth century, he built his collection into one with worldwide representation.
Carpenter became expert at making the Denton Mount, a special glass box for displaying Lepidoptera, which is no longer in use but was quite popular early in the 20th century. The Denton Mount permits viewing of both the upper and lower surfaces of each specimen. In addition to this distinction, Carpenter was a charter member of the Lepidopterists’ Society, established in 1947.
After Carpenter’s death, his widow wanted to keep the collection intact and sold it for a fraction of its market value to the White Memorial Conservation Center (then the Litchfield Nature Center and Museum) in 1970. At the Conservation Center, it was organized by Sidney Hessel of Washington, D.C. and Dr. Charles Remington of Yale University.
The sale of the collection to the Conservation Center carried no written conditions aside from Mrs. Carpenter's verbal wish to keep the collection intact. In 1985, the collection was acquired by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. The specimens on display are on loan from the Museum. The original wooden cases in which the butterflies are kept came as part of Carpenter’s collection. The newer cases were built by students at the Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington.
Babbidge Library, Gallery on the Plaza
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