James John Joicey

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James John Joicey 1920

James John Joicey (1871 – 10 March 1932, in Hill Witley) was an amateur entomologist who assembled a massive collection of Lepidoptera in a private museum called the Hill Museum.


A wealthy man of leisure, Joicey first competed with Walter Rothschild, attempting to build the world's premier orchid collection. He went bankrupt, owing £30,000, and the judge made him promise to abandon collecting orchids.

Instead, Joicey switched to Lepidoptera, founding the Hill Museum at his Witley home. He began by acquiring the Henley Grose-Smith collection in 1910. Three years later he purchased the Herbert Druce collection. Between 1913 and 1921 Joicey bought further collections, those of Ernst Suffert, c.1913, Fritz Ludwig Otto Wichgraf, 1913, Roland Trimen, 1916, Robert Swinhoe, 1916, Lt.-Col. C. G. Nurse, 1919, Hamilton Druce, 1919, Heinrich Riffarth, 1919, Henry John Elwes, 1920 and Paul Dognin 1921. He added to these by sending special collectors to explore various regions on his behalf, for example, the Pratt family to South America and New Guinea, and T. A. Barns to Central Africa. Mr. W. J. C. Frost, who visited the Islands of Tenimber, Am, Key, Misol, Obi and Sula, during 1915—1918 donated his collection. Another collector Mr. C. Talbot Bowring sent many thousands of specimens from the Island of Hainan (1918—1920). By 1930 the Hill Museum contained upwards of 380,000 specimens. Joicey employed curators, such as George Talbot, who published on world Lepidoptera, concentrating on New Guinea, Hainan Island, and central and eastern Africa. He published four volumes of the Bulletin of the Hill Museum, 1931–1932.

A Catalogue of the Type Specimens of Lepidoptera Rhopalocera in the Hill Museum was published by Alfred George Gabriel in 1932.

Joicey went bankrupt again in the 1930s, owing over £300,000, and his collection was given to the Natural History Museum in London. The Joicey, Oberthür and Rothschild collections contributed to the numerical predominance of the Natural History Museum, London.


Partial list

with George Talbot

  • New Lepidoptera from the Schouten Islands. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 64(1): 65–83 pls 3–6 (1916).
  • New Heterocera from Dutch New Guinea. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist (8)20: 50–87, pls 1–4 (1917).
  • New Lepidoptera from Waigeu, Dutch New Guinea and Biak. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8)20: 216–229 (1917)
  • New forms of Indo-Australian butterflies. Bull. Hill Mus. 1(3): 565–569 (1924)
  • New forms of Lepidoptera Rhopalocera. Encycl. Entomol. (B III Lepidoptera)2: 1–14 (1926)
  • New forms of Rhopalocera in the Hill Museum. Bull. Hill Mus. 2(1): 19–27 (1928)


  • Anon. 1932: [Joicey, J. J.] Ent. News 43 140
  • Anon. 1932: [Joicey, J. J.] Ent. Rec. J. Var. 44 68
  • Anon.1933: [Joicey, J. J.] London Naturalist. 1932
  • Gilbert, P. 2000: Butterfly Collectors and Painters. Four centuries of colour plates from The Library Collections of The Natural History Museum, London.Singapore, Beaumont Publishing Pte Ltd : X+166 S.
  • N. D. R. 1932: [Joicey, J. J.] Entomologist 65 142–144
  • Turner, H. J. 1932: [Joicey, J. J.] Ent. Rec. J. Var. 44 68

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