During his lifetime Thomas Parkin assembled a large and significant collection of eggs. The collection was, in the majority, purchased, chiefly from the Stevens Auction Rooms in Covent Garden. Parkin’s collection along with all of his catalogues and a considerable amount of other documentation was acquired by Hastings Museum on his death and subsequently transferred to the BoothMuseum in 1998.
Educated at Rugby, Trinity College where he was awarded his Masters degree in 1871 and called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1874, Parkin was one of the founding members of the Hastings & St. Leonards Natural History Society and was elected its first president.
Parkin travelled extensively. In 1887 he sailed toAustralia, New Zealand and Tasmania via the Cape of Good Hope collecting seabirds en route. He returned via Cape Horn. The seabirds were given to the British Museum. He also collected in Southern Spain and in the southern states of the USA and made trips to North Africa, living briefly inParis before returning to England for the cricket!
Parkin’s catalogues are filled with data, original labels, receipts and letters (including original envelopes) from various donors or other ornithologists. There is an alphabetised list of oologists with whom he had been in contact and many notes on various egg collectors, photographs of them and details of their gravestones. The catalogues also include many laboriously hand copied articles from miscellaneous journals relevant to the eggs in his collection.
Parkin also served in the Royal Cumberland Militia and the catalogue includes a photograph of him in uniform sporting his very fine waxed moustache.
The Booth Museum collections contain 4,190 specimens collected by Parkin. 4,160 of these are eggs which are scrupulously catalogued with find dates, localities and details of earlier collectors all recorded. In addition, there are seventeen examples of Dodo bones collected by George Clarke in La Mare aux Songes inMauritius. Parkin also acquired the egg of a Great Auk, the holy grail of egg collectors.
Jeremy Adams, retired Assistant Keeper at the Booth Museum