From time to time, you might see a book in the catalogue listed as Stack. These are books which are housed behind the scenes in the Central Library - items that the Library definitely wants to keep, but for some reason (e.g. older condition, or not in as high demand) the open shelf is not the right place for them. Most can be borrowed.
Please ask at the enquiries counter on the Second Floor and staff will be happy to retrieve them.
This webpage will highlight some of these nearly forgotten treasures - note that the author's selections and recommendations of these golden oldies are entirely idiosyncratic!
Last updated 18 March 2004
Biology Classics & Miscellanea
The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects, by Charles Darwin. (1890)
Darwin concludes in this very thorough little volume "It has, I think shown that the Orchidae exhibit an almost endless diversity of beautiful adaptations".... Although an organ may not have been originally formed for some special purpose" [e.g. to enable a specific insect type to engage in the cross-fertilisation process to the benefit of the ongoing species] "if it now serves for this end, we are justified in saying that it is specially adapted for it."
The overloaded ark, by Gerald Durrell. (1953)
This is the chronicle of a six month's collection trip made to the rain forests of the Cameroons in West Africa to collect some of the animals, birds and reptiles, and experience Africa as it was (as opposed to "the white man's Africa"). "In writing a book about a collective trip you don't want to write 250 pages on how to clean out monkey pages" so be assured reader that it contains mainly the more interesting adventures. (drawn from the Author's word in advance).
The silent world, by Jacques Cousteau. (1953)
Captain Cousteau began spear-fishing in the Mediterranean in the 1930s, and developed the aqualung diving apparatus for which he is famous. In 1945 he founded the French navy's Undersea Research Group but is perhaps more well known in NZ from his televised adventures as Captain of the research ship Calypso touring the oceans of the world.
An introduction to the study of microscopic fungi : rust, smut, mildew and mould, by M.C. Cooke. (1886)
The book begins "In these latter days, when everyone who possesses a love for the marvellous, or desires a knowledge of some of the minute mysteries of nature, has, or ought to have a microscope...."
On one hand this is not for the faint-hearted as, quite apart from the specialised topic, the language is rather laboured.
On the other hand that, together with the coloured illustrations, can form part of its charm as an example of a bygone era of botanical study and description.
Adaptive coloration in animals, by Hugh Cott. (1940)
With the aid of Dr Cott's own drawing and photographs he illustrates how nature - in this case via the operation of natural selection - employs the most elaborate optical-psychological devices to enhance conspicuousness where it is advantageous, or to reduce it where camouflage would be the biological aim. Examples include reverse counter-shading in fish which swim upside-down, similarly in caterpillars which rest inverted.
A fascinating compendium of adaptive physical and behavioural variety to be found in nature however one views his conclusions.
The science of life, by H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley and G. P. Wells. (1938)
"The triplex author claims to be wedded to no creed, associated with no propaganda; he is telling what he believes to be the truth about life, so far as it is known now".
The overall sequence is an attempt to biological knowledge and is hence in sections of the living body ; patterns of life; evolution - fact and theory, reproduction, heredity and the development of sex; the history and adventure of life; organism and environment; how animals behave; man's mind and behaviour; biology of the human race.
Butterflies and moths at home and abroad, by H. Rowland-Brown. (1912)
While the "home" here is Great Britain, and there are many newer similar versions, this has quite a few interesting coloured plates.
The shell book : a popular guide to a knowledge of the families of living mollusks, and an aid to the identification of shells native and foreign, by Julia Ellen Rogers. (1908)
The aim of this book is to provide a manual of the shell-bearing animals of the sea and land for the general reader and to "make it interesting and useful". At over 400 pages, the main part of the book works through the various classes of univalves, tooth shells, and bivalves with frequest black and white photographs. Each entry contains a description, any notes of interest about the animal, sub species, and habitat.
Out of Noah's ark: the story of man's discovery of the animal kingdom, by Herbert Wendt. (1956).
Did unicorns ever exist? While Wendt covers some zoological puzzles such as this, the main focus is the description of man's discovery of other more realistic creatures - from pre-historic depictions to modern times. And the facts of nature often turn out to be stranger than fantasy.
The book of the huia, by W.J. Phillipps. (1963)
The story of European contact with the huia began in 1835 and from then on followed the "dismal years of association between the white man and New Zealand's wonder bird." So begins this classic which covers in addition to its general description, tapu feathers, waka huia, huia emulets, folk-lore, as well as factors on its extinction.
Extra for experts:
Ferns : British and exotic, by E. J. Lowe. (8 volumes).
This series is Reference Only, but may be viewed by appointment. Please call telephone 801-4114 to arrange a time.
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Please don't hesitate to email us if you wish to share your comments and views on these or any other stack book, or view previous editions. Happy delving!