Jones' 'Icones' is one of the most beautiful and scientifically important early works on butterfly and moth (Lepidoptera) collections found in Britain. Completed in the late 18th century by a relatively unknown amateur entomologist, William Jones of Chelsea, the 'Icones' is a six volume manuscript of paintings and descriptions representing over 760 Lepidoptera species from around the world. While its beauty is immediately apparent, its importance as a snapshot of insect collecting at a time in history when many of these species where first being described is what makes Jones' 'Icones' a true treasure of the history natural history.
Flying Icons: The Collection of William Jones of Chelsea (1745-1818)
This website is the result of a project at Oxford University Museum of Natural History called 'Flying Icons'. Since the Museum was given Jones' 'Icones', and a related archive of material in the 1920's, many individuals and organisations have sought to have this unpublished masterpiece made more widely available. After over 150 years of trying to publish this remarkable work, this has now been accomplished.
This project was generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Without their support this remarkable achievement of British zoological heritage would have continued to lie virtually hidden from the world, only accessible to researchers able to visit our Museum.