Friday, 28 November 2014

Naughty curators and palaeontology laws that defy logic.....

From ‘The History of Palaeontology at Doncaster Museum’ in a recent GCG publication

“The infamous Elfie Gilmour, real name Elphistone Forrest Gilmour (honest) is one of the most colourful and influential characters in the history of Doncaster Museum (1953-62). People who knew him paint the picture of a dynamic charismatic leader and during his time at Doncaster he certainly transformed the museum service. However, there was a darker and morally dubious side to his character. He was an internationally renowned export on cerambycid (long-horn) beetles and even before his arrival at Doncaster his inability to define the boundary between his personal collection and the collection of a museum had landed him in trouble. In 1949 he was convicted and sentenced to 3 months in jail for stealing 160 beetles from the Natural History Museum.

.....In early 1967 he was suspended and pleaded guilty of publishing an obscene article, a film, sending 6 indecent colour transparencies through the post, stealing entomological cabinets and obtaining £224 by false pretences. His pleas of not guilty of two charges of publishing obscene articles and of stealing 20,749 beetles valued at £850 were accepted by the prosecution.”

Elphistone Gilmour was seduced from the path of righteousness by his obsession with coleopterology (study of beetles)!!

In a previous blog I mentioned a curator from Harvard who murdered and butchered his patron for the sake of a particularly fine mammoth skeleton. (The Parkman–Webster murder case)
Are there more dark deeds, heinous secrets and forbidden passions concealed in the annals of geological and natural history curatorship?

The States of New York and New Jersey demonstrated a degree of paleontological ignorance usually associated with Bible belt bigotry by banning the sale of mammoth teeth and tusks earlier this year in a move that was intended to bolster the ban on selling elephant ivory.

Elephants are an endangered species.

Mammoths are extinct.

Perhaps soon they will ban the use of antibiotics to help stem the trade in illegal drugs, tomatoes because they are the same family as cannabis and keeping domestic cats as pets (.....they are little tigers really, a protected species!).