Wallace Standard Wing with label displaying collection by A.R Wallace

A study skin of the Wallace Standard Wing bird of paradise with label showing its collection by A.R Wallace himself in 1859.


During October of 1858, the celebrated naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace – co-founder with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution – arrived in Bacan, an island some 200 miles east of
the great island of New Guinea. He had previously been in New Guinea where he had seen many birds of paradise, but he had no expectation of finding any on the smallish island at which
he had just arrived.
However, he was destined for a great surprise – for it was here that he encountered the species that he came to regard as his greatest zoological discovery.
He described his first view of a specimen bought to him by a native hunter in the following words:
        “I saw a bird with a mass of splendid green feathers, elongated into two glittering tufts….I now saw that I had got a great prize, no less
         than a completely new form of bird of paradise, differing  most remarkably from every other known bird.
Wallace managed to obtain a small number of specimens and excitedly sent them off to Samuel Stevens, his agent in London. As soon as the naturalists of the day saw them, they decided that the specimens
were so important that they created a new species and genus for the bird and named it scientifically as Semioptera wallacei. It’s common name is now Wallace’s Standard-winged Bird of Paradise.
Samuel Stevens sold some specimens to London’s Natural History Museum, but a very few he held back and sold them, on Wallace’s behalf, to private collectors.
Remarkably, this particular specimen has remained in private hands for more than 150 years, and bears Wallace’s original label written by the great man himself.
It represents a unique opportunity to acquire an important piece of zoological history.