Title: Oak Tree Clay fossils

Creator: James Sowerby (1757-1822) for William Smith (1769-1839)

Description: Depictions of characteristic fossils found in the Oak Tree Clay stratum.

Source: Smith, William, ‘Strata Identified by Organized Fossils, Containing Prints on Colored Paper of the Most Characteristic Specimens in Each Stratum’, London: W Arding, (1816-1819).

Smith was the first person to recognise the importance of fossils in identifying strata of equivalent age, thus enabling rocks to be correlated across country. His work as a surveyor and engineer involved him travelling up and down the country during which he accumulated a large collection of ‘characteristic’ fossils of the British strata. By 1815, his financial problems (caused in part by a bad investment in a quarrying concern in Bath) led to the sale of his precious fossil collection to the British Museum. This publication is part catalogue/part explanation of his collection and theories, the illustrations (by the natural history illustrator James Sowerby) printed on coloured paper to correlate with the geological colouring on his 1815 map of England and Wales.

Format: Hand coloured engraving

Image reference: 23-11

Recommended print size: Up to 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30cm)

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