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James Petiver (c.1665-1718), a London apothecary, expended considerable effort on establishing contact with travellers who might be able to enhance his extensive natural history collections. To this end, he provided detailed collecting instructions for his many correspondents. This contribution documents the changing character of Petiver’s specifications, from individual comments in his letters, through the first (rather brief) printed instructions, to the later well-known ‘Brief Directions’ handbill. It will also assess the success of this approach in persuading individuals, often in far-flung places in both the New and Old World, to make collections on his behalf, drawing on Petiver’s correspondence and particularly on the surviving natural history material itself, now chiefly among Hans Sloane’s collections at the Natural History Museum in London.

In: Naturalists in the Field