Spiders and Their Spinningwork

This original pencil and watercolor plate appears in Henry McCook’s American Spiders and Their Spinningwork (1889–1893). The Reverend Doctor Henry McCook (1837–1911) became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1875 and vice president in 1882. As a naturalist and a minister, he spent much of his free time observing ants and spiders and studying their scientific classifications. He authored a number of scientific and popular science books and published his research in Proceedings of
the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and Transactions of the American Entomological Society.

From 1889 to 1893, McCook published his most extended work, American Spiders and Their Spinningwork: A Natural History of the Orbweaving Spiders of the United States with Special Regard to Their Industry and Habits, in three illustrated volumes. A total of only 250 sets were printed by the author, 150 of which were “Author’s Editions.” The book represented one of the most comprehensive accounts
of the habits of spiders of its time. American Spiders and Their Spinningwork is on display in the Academy’s current special exhibit, Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close, open through May 30.

Henry McCook Spider Drawing

Volume Three, Plate Seven, images pasted onto a sheet, with notes. Illustrator: probably Elizabeth Fearne Bonsall (1861–1956). ANS Archives Coll. 478

This article will appear in the spring 2016 issue of Academy Frontiers.

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