d'Abrera

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d'Abrera

Post by bobw »

I don't know Hecq's work, but I certainly wouldn't trust anything that D'Abrera said.
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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by adamcotton »

Mostly D'Abrera followed the arrangement in the BMNH rather than expressing opinions based on his own research, except for maybe those based on his personal beliefs. As a result reinstating a previous status may not even have been deliberate, unless specifically indicated.

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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by Chuck »

bobw wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 7:33 pm I don't know Hecq's work, but I certainly wouldn't trust anything that D'Abrera said.

THIS. Adam was much more politically correct. D’Abrera researched almost nothing, pushed uninformed opinion like fact, and notoriously ignored past publications. It’s well documented that his books are rife with errors.
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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by africaone »

the true can be diverse.
D'Abrera's work is just to compile an illustrate catalogue based on his opinion (that seems sometime strange an unscientific). Having had discussion with him, I can tell that his predicator function and creationist thinkings were more important for him.
For Hecq the problem is elsewhere and I can say that as I knew him personally quite well until his death and for my beginning in African lepidopterology. Jacques was very intuitive and understood many things in his groups well before any other entomologist. Unfortunetely his publications (quite elliptic) doesn't reflect the real level of his knowledges and discoveries. This is the weak part of his entomological career. The groups he choosed are very very difficult to study i.e. the Euphaedra are comparabale to the "black Charaxes complex" to study and probably more difficult than it. Of course some of his descriptions will be put into synonymy (as it is the case for all describers) espacially from his two last papers on Euphaedra, quite botched, he done very quickly before his dead because he knew that he will disappeared in the following days. Even today the specialits of Euphaedra (or other African Limenitidine) doesn't know what to do with 60 % of them and his rate of errors is very low regarding this aspect. Discussion about sp or ssp level is not serious in many cases as this concept changes with the time, barcode, etc. Jacques wasn't a big follower of the Code following more his spontaneous and "hard" temperment. I want to say, be caution when judging Hecq, it is true he made mistakes but it is quite few regarding what he done with success and few people had a so good rate of positive results. Of course if you doesn't publish, you will not be be cristicised and you also bring nothing to the community !! 100 % success doesn't exist.
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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by adamcotton »

Chuck wrote: Mon Sep 19, 2022 9:03 pm Adam was much more politically correct.
Yes, I don't want to cast too many Nasturtiums. Maybe it's partly due to the British propensity for understatement and being polite about issues that many would use more blunt language about.

Indeed there are many errors in D'Abrera's books, which have perpetuated many problems, both the use of invalid or unavailable names and often classifications which were not current at the time of publication.

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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by Trehopr1 »

Did Mr. D'abrera's last literary effort offer any changes in his ideas about certain groups he was not (worldly) in ?

I forget the title of his last work but it was nicely illustrated and it was a thin soft cover book (which I have at home) but, I am not home at the moment.

I thought that perhaps because his last work was easily done some 20 or 25 years later (after his monumental books) he might have seen some things a little differently from his previous thoughts.

After all, all of us continue to learn new things even at the professional level. Young upstarts (in any field) evoke new ideas or confirm ideas that may have been considered unsettled.

Despite some of his apparent failures in his books (which others have mentioned); he presented to us the world of butterflies in all its joyous color and complexities.

His labor of love may not be perfect and has eventually aged taxonomically but, the broad scope of butterflies that he embraced with both arms and ❤️ has not as yet -- been repeated.

A legacy in its own right.
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Re: Pseudacraea

Post by adamcotton »

Trehopr1 wrote: Tue Sep 20, 2022 6:04 pm Despite some of his apparent failures in his books (which others have mentioned); he presented to us the world of butterflies in all its joyous color and complexities.
I absolutely agree with this statement. I don't think anyone is suggesting his books should just be thrown in the bin, just that they have their issues.
Trehopr1 wrote: Tue Sep 20, 2022 6:04 pm I forget the title of his last work but it was nicely illustrated and it was a thin soft cover book (which I have at home) but, I am not home at the moment.
Bernard d'Abrera (he eventually decided that his name should be spelt with a small 'd') published his last book in 2016 - Butterflies of the Neotropical Region, Part I Papilionidae & Pieridae, New and Revised Edition. Hill House, Malvern, Victoria. xiii + 271 pp., although I suppose his very last publication was a 2 page 'Addenda & Corrigenda' to this book.
The publication before that was Saturniidae Mundi part III published in 2013, which I do not have.

I would be interested to know which book you have with a soft cover.

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Re: d'Abrera

Post by adamcotton »

As requested by Chuck, I moved these posts to a new topic.

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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Cabintom »

As a window into some of the challenges found within his work, here's an in-depth 3 part review of d’Abrera’s Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region – Part III (second edition), 2009, which was published in Metamorphosis . (N.B. the authors of this review were/are among the top authorities on Afrotropical Butterflies)

PART 1
PART 2
PART 3

And then, so as to not leave this as a one-sided affair, here is d'Abrera's reaction to the review.

Edit: And, so as to give the complete picture, here is the lead author's response to d'Abrera's letter.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Trehopr1 »

Thank you for enlightening me in these matters.
I never knew of these reviews, his reactions, or the
subsequent response letter.

Time marches on, science evolves but, some folks do
not roll well with either.

I think taking on such a monumental task (as he did) is
just too much for any single human intelligence. One NEEDS
help; and yet, cannot be too proud to ask for it.

I still appreciate his years-long efforts and the truly panoramic
view which he presented to us of the butterfly world.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Trehopr1 »

Hello Adam,
Here is my copy of Mr. d'Abrera's softcover book
that I mentioned. It was actually produced in 2006;
two years after his last butterfly volume.

Of coarse, he went on to publish his Saturniidae
volumes after this softcover so, I had the timeframe
mixed-up thinking that this was his last work.

Anyway, I suppose it is something akin to Smart's butterfly
book of (1975); showing lots of variety of genera and species
from diffrent world regions. Not as comprehensive as his
butterfly volumes but, tasteful enough for the general audience
of typical collectors like myself (non-specialist).

Features recto/verso versions of butterflies and is still enjoyable
to own and consult for general usage.

Beats trying to purchase or own his 20 volume set which now prices
out about 2000+ dollars or 200+/- a volume (for most).

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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Chuck »

We can go on for pages about him, and perhaps we should. He was a complex, eccentric man. Were his books a result of any bit of scientific need, or of a brilliant holistic demonstration of business acumen, or just for prestige?

In all, a spectacular summary from of all places Wikipedia, a source which is no more accurate than D’Abrera himself:

Arthur Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist and entomologist at the University of California at Davis, described d'Abrera's books thus:[14]

Attention should be paid to their stupidities, their errors, their pig-headedness, their bad writing. The thing is, as I say in my reviews, they're absolutely indispensable. There's nothing else like them. If you're trying to identify exotic butterflies outside your geographic area, the primary and secondary literatures are so scattered and relatively inaccessible, you're out of hope. Big coffee table picture books are the only way to go. But if you're going to do that, at least get input from the people in the areas you cover geographically so you don't make an ass of yourself.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by bobw »

Art got it spot on! He was an infuriating man and the books have no scientific merit, but they are indispensable as there's nothing else like them, except for Seitz, which is 100 years out-of-date and cost even more.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by daveuk »

Trehopr1 wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:45 pm Hello Adam,
Here is my copy of Mr. d'Abrera's softcover book
that I mentioned. It was actually produced in 2006;
two years after his last butterfly volume.

Of coarse, he went on to publish his Saturniidae
volumes after this softcover so, I had the timeframe
mixed-up thinking that this was his last work.

Anyway, I suppose it is something akin to Smart's butterfly
book of (1975); showing lots of variety of genera and species
from diffrent world regions. Not as comprehensive as his
butterfly volumes but, tasteful enough for the general audience
of typical collectors like myself (non-specialist).

Features recto/verso versions of butterflies and is still enjoyable
to own and consult for general usage.

Beats trying to purchase or own his 20 volume set which now prices
out about 2000+ dollars or 200+/- a volume (for most).

Image

Image
I have the hard back version of that one trehopr. I did buy the paper back but passed it on when I purchased the hard back. I also have nine other volumes of his work. I particularly like the revised one on African nymphalidae. From a purely aesthetic point of view in my opinion this is a very beautiful book. The late Danny Burke from this forum recommended this particular volume to me.
The only paper back of D'abrera's I have now is a small "guide" to butterflies of South America. I bought this one at the BMNH book shop in London in the 1980's. It was published in 1984.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by livingplanet3 »

I don't have any of d'Abrera's publications, although I have seen a few of them in libraries. My own collection of natural history books has grown quite large over the years, and it's long occurred to me that at some point, I'll likely have to downsize it through a carefully considered removal of what material I would consider to be superfluous. Certainly though, most of my books on insects are among those that I would choose to retain, and many of them are important to me not only because of the information they contain, but sentimental value as well. Admittedly, in the age of the internet, their sentimental value likely considerably outweighs their significance as a source of information.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by kevinkk »

Well, I learn something new here nearly daily.
As far as books, at least they don't crash, need charged or a signal. I'd own more if it wasn't for cost.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by adamcotton »

Here is a list of the publications of Bernard d'Abrera (not arranged by date) I received after his death:

LIST OF WORKS BY BERNARD D’ABRERA
______________________________________________________________________________________

0 701803134 1971 Butterflies of the Australian Region (1st Edition)

0 701810033 1977 Butterflies of the Australian Region (2nd Edition)

978-0-947352-02-8 1990 Butterflies of the Australian Region (3rd Revised Edition)
0-947352-0-23

978-0-9593639-0-6 1982 Butterflies of the Oriental Region Part I (Papilionidae, Pieridae, Danaidae)
0-9593639-0-4

978-0-9593639-1-2 1985 Butterflies of the Oriental Region Part II (Nymphalidae, Satyridae, Amathusidae)
0-9593639-1-2

978-0-9593639-4-4 1986 Butterflies of the Oriental Region Part III (Lycaenidae, Riodinidae)
0-9593639-4-7

978-0-7018-1033-7 1981 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part I (Papilionidae, Pieridae)
0-7018-1033-5

978-0-947352-11-0 2016 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part I (New and Revised)

978-0-9593639-3-7 2009 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part II – Reprint (Danaidae, Ithomiidae, Heliconidae, Morphidae)
0-9593639-3-9

978-0-9593639-5-1 1987 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part III (Brassolidae, Acraeidae, Nymphalidae (partim))
0-9593639-5-5

978-0-9593639-6-8 1987 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part IV (Nymphalidae (partim))
0-9593639-6-3

No ISBN 1988 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part V (Nymphalidae (concl.), Satyridae)

978-0-947352-23-3 1994 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part VI (Riodinidae)
0-947352-23-6

978-0-947352-29-5 1995 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part VII (Lycaenidae)
0-947352-29-5

978-0-646012-02-5 1990 Butterflies of the Holarctic Region Part I (Papilionidae, Pieridae, Danaidae, Satyridae (partim))
0-646012-02-9

978-0-646-06255-6 1992 Butterflies of the Holarctic Region Part II (Satyridae (concl.), Nymphalidae (partim))
0-646-06255-7

978-0-947352-20-2 1993 Butterflies of the Holarctic Region Part III (Nymphalidae (concl.), Libytheidae, Riodinidae, Lycaenidae)
0-947352-20-1

978-0-947352-34-9 1997 Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region New & Revised Edition (Vol.I) (Papilionidae, Pieridae, Acraeidae, Danaidae, Satyridae)
0-947352-34-1

978-0-947352-45-5 2004 Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region New & Revised Edition (Vol. II) (Nymphalidae Libytheidae)
0-947352-45-7

978-0-947352-52-3 2009 Butterflies of the Afrotropical Region New & Revised Edition (Vol. III) (Lycaenidae, Riodinidae)
______________________________________________________________________________________

194735235X 1998 BUTTERFLIES OF CEYLON

978-0-947352-37-0 2001 THE CONCISE ATLAS OF BUTTERFLIES OF THE WORLD
0-947352-37-6

0 701803681 1975 BIRDWING BUTTERFLIES OF THE WORLD (First Edition)

978-0-947352-42-4 2003 BIRDWING BUTTERFLIES OF THE WORLD (New & Revised Edition)
0-947352-42-2

9780947352356 1984 BUTTERFLIES OF SOUTH AMERICA

978-0-947352-46-2 2006 WORLD BUTTERFLIES
0-947352-46-5

978-0-7018-0486-2 1974 MOTHS OF AUSTRALIA
0-7018-0486-6
______________________________________________________________________________________

0-860960-22-6 1986 SPHINGIDAE MUNDI (Hawkmoths of the World)
978-0-860960-22-5

9783931374013 1995 SATURNIIDAE MUNDI I (Saturniid Moths of the World)

978-0-947352-24-7 2013 SATURNIIDAE MUNDI II (Saturniid Moths of the World)

9783931374037 1998 SATURNIIDAE MUNDI III (Saturniid Moths of the World)

Hopefully this list will be useful.

Adam.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by adamcotton »

adamcotton wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 5:33 pm 978-0-9593639-3-7 2009 Butterflies of the Neotropical Region Part II – Reprint (Danaidae, Ithomiidae, Heliconidae, Morphidae)
0-9593639-3-9
I have an original issue of this publication dated 1984, ISBN 0-9593639-3-9 as above. Presumably the text and plates of the 1984 and 2009 reprint are identical.

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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Chuck »

I just returned home and checked, surprised I have three D'Abrera volumes: the 1971 edition of Butterflies of Australian Region (priced $39.95), the softcopy of Butterflies of South America, and Moths of Australia.

The quality of D'Abrera's work has long been criticized. The previously mentioned critiques are nothing compared to those by John Tennent, in one of which he used one of my favorite words, "rubbish." Stateside we all recognize the word, we just rarely use it. But Brits love "rubbish" and use it well.

All said though, the real question is what D'Abrera's goal was in publishing his first (and subsequent) book. Most presume that it was to provide identification guides; to this I disagree. While undeniably D'Abrera was a Lep enthusiast (indeed, he had a desk at BMNH), I believe his motive was cash.

There is great risk in publishing a hardbound book, and great upfront expense as well. But today's risks are nothing compared to pre-2005. Film photography was multitudes more expensive than today's digital photography, and layout was done manually, not with a $399 software package that does everything for you.

Nowhere have I read that D'Abrera's publications were funded by anyone but himself. So more than likely (again focusing on the first book) he undoubtedly invested outrageous amounts of money and time; the time can't be recouped but certainly a payback was of utmost importance.

About the omissions of species: D'Abrera's images relied almost exclusively on specimens in BMNH. Fortunately for him, access to the specimens was both free and easy. Obtaining images of the omitted species would be both costly and time consuming. And, time is money (remember the time value of money) too. So omitting those species for which images were not readily available makes financial sense.

About spelling, date, etc. errors: D'Abrera blames some on BMNH. And, some is just sloppy work, period. Perhaps he wasn't concerned so much with spelling- many engineers are not, no matter how much one might lead or berate them. Some people don't care about the details. And going over details takes time....which is money.

About the refusal of peer review: This topic has probably most incensed Lep professionals. I met D'Abrera, and of course his thoughts were regularly voiced and publicized, and it is without a doubt he was a self-righteous bastard. That said, when I published my first research book and sent it for peer review, it came back redlined like a book on Northern Ireland sent to MI6 for review; it was slaughtered. It took me six months more to go do more research, correct, and edit. Again, time = money. [on a later publication I skipped peer review to expedite publication,and sure as schitt the first person that gets it finds an error. Notably though as much as it annoyed me, it didn't harm sales.]

Overall, despite the complaints, it appears that D'Abrera was quite astute. He had free access to 98% of the material he needed; he published books that in hindsight were highly popular; he rushed them to the market and recovered his investment as quickly as possible. From a purely financial perspective, he did the right thing.
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Re: d'Abrera

Post by Trehopr1 »

I too have a few select offerings from Mr. d'Abrera's many published works. I have his 1971 copy of Australian butterflies and his very first edition which he did on birdwing butterflies. Additionally, I acquired the first really thick book which he did on all of Africa and of course I did acquire the small soft cover book on butterflies of South America (which I brought with me on my very first exotic trip to Ecuador in 1987) !

That first Africa book is so thick it reminds me of a city telephone book or Webster's un-abridged dictionary. I think nowadays that book alone easily fetches in excess of $500 a copy if the copy is in pretty decent shape.

You know, if the prices of everything didn't get so whacked out I would probably look to get a couple of his other volumes but, now they have become too costly and I suppose I value specimens or additional drawer space over books now.
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