Accuracy of information sources

Conflicting information means that opinions must be reached about which source – the register or an original label on the specimen - is more likely to be accurate. I have assumed that the data on the specimen labels are more reliable, for the following reasons:

  • The dates on the specimen labels were actually written at the time by Gilbert; the accession registers are long entries of data copied from the specimens and much depends on the person doing the copying. Register entries are often generalized versions of the actual data on the specimens, e.g. "near Perth" could well be an extrapolation for a locality 60 miles from Perth.
  • That some accession register sources are unreliable can be proved, e.g. two Golden Whistlers  Pachycephala pectoralis fuliginosa were labelled by Gilbert as having been collected near Toodyay, inland Western Australia on 20 September 1839 (BMNH 1841.6.1000 and .1001), both these are recorded as having been collected on 4 September in the BMNH Accession Register. This would have been impossible as Gilbert wrote a letter to Gould from Perth on the 3 September 1839.