M996X.2.691 | Herbarium press

Herbarium press
1840-1860, 19th century
53 x 40.7 x 24.5 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Press (5)
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Keys to History

This herbarium press was used by the McCord family in the 19th century to dry plants. John Samuel McCord (1801-1865) was an accomplished amateur scientist and an avid gardener, which no doubt accounts for his use of this press.

Herbarium specimens of flowering plants, ferns and the larger algae are customarily dried between sheets of heavy blotting paper or construction felt under pressure so that the drying specimen is flat. Most specimens dry in about a week, if the blotters are changed several times. The drying can be speeded up by interspersing ventilators of corrugated cardboard among the blotters. The dried and pressed plants are then mounted in a herbarium in a manner that best illustrates the characteristics of the plants.

Nineteenth-century botanists, both amateur and professional, used herbariums for identifying and conducting research on plants.

  • What

    This herbarium press is made of mahogany and has a finely carved screw of the same material.

  • Where

    John Samuel McCord often collected plants while out walking near his summer home in the Eastern Townships.

  • When

    John Samuel McCord (1801-1865) was active as an amateur botanist, especially in his later years.

  • Who

    John Samuel McCord had a great interest in the natural sciences, especially meteorology and botany.