Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., Printers, 1870. First Edition. Wraps. Octavo; pp; 30, (ii), lithograph of the Institute on rear wrapper; original printed paper wrappers. Small European Library stamp on top left front wrapper else, very good. Item #18693
The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a natural history museum in Philadelphia. It was founded in 1855 by William Wagner, a merchant, philanthropist, and gentleman scientist of the time, who sought to offer free educational courses to all who would seek to learn about the natural world. Wagner began offering free lectures on science at his home, Elm Grove, a colonial farm estate on the outskirts of Philadelphia in 1847. To illustrate the lectures he drew on a collection of specimens he had gathered since his boyhood. All of the classes were offered with an open admission policy that allowed women as well as men to attend. These lectures became so popular that by 1855 he moved them first to a public hall to accommodate the rapidly growing audience, and later to its permanent home designed by Philadelphia architect John McArthur, Jr., who would go on to design Philadelphia's City Hall.