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“It is not absolutely necessary to have come to Madagascar to publish a scientific description. Indeed, in 1881, there are already enough publications on the most diverse subjects written by those who came to the Great Island, “to be able to draw scattered details and gather them into a more or less coherent picture”.
In 1888, H. Schanckenberg gave his dissertation to the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, entitled “Contribution to the ethnography of Madagascar, with special attention to the Vazimba”. This memoir clearly illustrates the above statement, because it is a simple library work, full of references to Flacourt, Drury, Grandidier, Rutenberg, Hildebrand, Audebert …
Another example is the scientific description of Madagascar which is more extraordinary since it emanates from a scientist closely specialized in butterflies, a “lepidopterologist”. And what’s more, “he is an amateur who has become a scientist by dedicating his retirement
Of a Prussian officer. Yet it was said of the Prussians that they were only good at war. “
It is the introduction of a great work written in 1881, “Lepidoptera of Madagascar” which is still considered in the 1970s as a standard work and even the plates of illustration in color lithography “could not have Be better done and more correctly today “.
The author of this “work” is Mr. Saalmüller, Royal Lieutenant-Colonel, out of service. As the second part of the work appeared only in 1891, that is to say, well after his death in 1832, it was a collaborator, also a former military officer, who commanded L. von Heyden.
The entire book is published by the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research. It is a foundation in the former free city of Frankfurt-on-Mein, which was founded in 1783. Originally it is private. It has important collections and world renown. “Gathered in a museum, they make it the best of all the museums of natural science, Federal Germany. “
And it is mainly with the butterfly collection of Madagascar of this institution that this great catalog can be established by Saalmüller. Butterflies collected in the Great Island by two “dedicated correspondents” of the Society. These are Carl Ebenau from Frankfurt and Anton Stumpf from the water city of Hamburg.
Both are agents of the commercial house Oswald, well known to the Malagasy. In addition, the first is temporary German consul residing in Toamasina. That is why the collections are mainly in Toamasina and Nosy Be.
Other museums also lend their equipment. The Lübeck Institute, for example, offers research conducted by another commercial agent of Nosy Be, Carl Reuter. And the Royal Museum of Berlin presents the result of works created and sent by Hildebrandt. “This only to name the Germans who contributed to it. But collaboration with French and English museums and collectors was also intense through exchanges, loan of equipment and attentive examinations. “
In any case, the introduction suggests the interest it will bring because it bears witness to a “surprising knowledge for the time” with regard to all the scientific aspects of Madagascar.
Thus, Smaalmüller relies on multiple information, gleaned not only from previous works, but also directly supplied by many specialists, also mentioned by name. “In this way, he was able to present an overview of the scientific facts known at the time, from Madagascar. “