Synopsis

A recent guidebook to the Lower Palaeozoic palaeontology of the Girvan district suggested, pointedly, that collecting is the pursuit of the amateur, and there is antagonism between amateur collectors and museum curators (professionals). This is illustrated by just one purported example, that of F.R. Cowper Reed (1869–1946). who may never have visited the Girvan district, but who described many significant fossils from the notable collection of Mrs Elizabeth Gray (1831–1924). However, this relationship was symbiotic, not parasitic. Mrs Gray did not want to describe her collection herself, but she did want it described. Further, as much of the descriptive work was undertaken after his retirement, Cowper Reed was monographing the Gray collection through scientific interest rather than any need to build a career.

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