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Fossils and books

Fearless LeaderGreenwood Road Books was born decades ago in the arcane imagination of one Ed Valauskas. He was inspired as a youngster by the Field Museum’s Curator of Fossil Invertebrates, Eugene Richardson — a noted paleontologist, printer, and bibliophile. Dr. Richardson encouraged Ed to combine his interests in fossil and book collecting, a habit he continues to this day. Each year, Ed searches this planet on his travels for both books and fossils, much to the enormous chagrin of baggage handlers everywhere. Fearless Leader at the Burgess Shale

Ed is attempting to visit many of the known lagerstätten in the world. He has climbed to the Cambrian Burgess Shale exposures in British Columbia, Canada; hunted for fossil invertebrates in the Jurassic lithographic limestone exposed in quarries around Solnhofen and Eichstätt, Germany; and, as a youngster collected concretions with fossils of Late Carboniferous age at Pit 11 and the Mazon Creek area in Illinois, as well as in the Late Cretaceous Coon Creek Formation in McNairy County, Tennessee and around the Silurian reef exposed in the Thornton Quarry in Thornton, Illinois.

Ed’s personal library numbers at least 10,000 volumes, with especially strong holdings in paleontology, stable isotopic geochemistry, and paleoecology. His collection includes books, journals, reprints, manuscripts, photographs, and even recordings (such as R. Tucker Abbott’s LP entitled Pronouncing the scientific names of seashells of North America, released in 1969). He is attempting to reconstruct the library of Eugene Richardson as it existed in the Geology Department at the Field Museum, circa 1968–1969. To this end, he has acquired a number of books and other printed materials that once were in Richardson’s office, identifiable by a very distinctive bookplate designed by Richardson.ESR bookplate

Think you know Ed? Take a special quiz to test your knowledge!

The image on the left is reproduced with the kind permission of the Field Museum (negative number GN81691). The original photograph was taken in August 1969 while Ed was a Shinner Fellow at the Museum, working in the invertebrate fossil collections. The image on the right was taken in August 2003 at the famous Cambrian Burgess shale quarry — high in the Canadian Rockies, near the summit of Mount Burgess (elevation 2,588 meters).

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