A Lovely 1930s Herbarium of British Plants

Our loveliest recent acquisition is this herbarium created during the 1930s by Elsie T. Skinner, who was attending St. Katharine's College in Tottenham.

We specialise in herbaria of various types, especially those made by women, and this one is particularly nice. It contains 151 carefully mounted specimens, representing a remarkable 121 different species from around the UK. This is an unusually large number, particularly for a student effort. The specimens are organised by genus and almost all are labelled with both their scientific and common names. They're generally in good condition, most retaining their texture and even some colour. While many could be obtained locally in and around London, others, such as heather and crowberry, would have been collected from more remote areas, possibly during family trips or perhaps sent by friends and relatives. Below, a selection of some of our favourites, starting with yarrow:

Laura Massey
Laura Massey


Alembic founder Laura Massey holds a bachelor's degree in the history of science from Georgia Tech and a master's in book history (focusing on medieval and early modern scientific and medical books,) from the Institute of English Studies at the University of London. She has worked as a cataloguer, bookseller, and blogger in libraries and bookshops in the United States and Britain.