Vernay, Arthur Stannard 1877-1960

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Exist Dates

1877 May 11 - 1960 October 25

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Arthur Stannard Vernay was an English-born antiques dealer, hunting enthusiast, naturalist and philanthropist. He immigrated to the United States in 1905 and opened the first of his antiques galleries in 1906, which he would run until his retirement in 1941. He is especially well known for his extensive expeditionary work collecting animal specimens for many cultural institutions, notably the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. On behalf of this Museum, he traveled to India, Burma, Angola, Tibet and the Kalahari Desert.

Vernay was born May 11, 1877 in Weymouth, England, and maintained his British citizenship. In 1905 he traveled to New York as a young, poor man and found work in a furniture store. He opened his first antiques shop at 10-12 East 45th Street in 1906. Arthur S. Vernay, Inc. was a successful business and he was able to open a second gallery in 1925 at 19 East 54th Street. (1) Besides dealing in the antiquities trade, the business also was known for restorations and interior design service, such as the installation of period paneled rooms. Various branches of the business would open and close both domestically and abroad over time. By the 1920s the business was secure and Vernay had invested wisely enough that he was able to focus his attention on his interest in nature, hunting, and collecting animal specimens for museums. In 1922 he began his association with the American Museum of Natural History, having offered to accompany and finance an expedition to south Asia with his friend Colonel John C. Faunthorpe. The resulting six Faunthorpe-Vernay Expeditions took place between 1922 and 1929 and culminated in an enormous gift to the Museum. The Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall of South Asiatic Mammals opened on November 17, 1930 and was dedicated to the two men.

This was the first of many working collaborations Vernay would experience with the Museum. In total he led fifteen expeditions on their behalf, including the Vernay Angola Expedition in 1925, the Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition in 1930, the Vernay Malaysian Expedition in 1933, the Vernay-Hopwood-Chindwin Expedition in 1934, and the Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet in 1935. His last expedition would be to South Africa in the Vernay Nyasaland Expedition of 1946-47. The Nyasaland Expedition was the first instance of field work sent overseas by the Museum after World War II began in 1939. (2) Through his association with the Museum he traveled with scientists such as Harold E. Anthony, Herbert Lang, and Leonard Brass. He was responsible for contributing numerous specimens to the Museum, particularly the Departments of Birds and Mammals. From 1933 he retained the title of Field Associate for the Department of Mammalogy. (3) In 1935 he was named to the Board of Trustees, remaining an active and then Honorary member until his death. (4)

Vernay had retired from his antiques business in 1941, leaving it to the care of three associates: Stephen J. Jussel, J. Gordon Irving, and J.L. van den Broeck. Jussel had acted as general manager under Vernay in the 1930s, and would later buy the business when the other trustees died. Arthur S. Vernay, Inc. would eventually be known as Vernay and Jussel, Inc. and closed in 1994. (5)

Upon his 1941 retirement, Vernay moved to his home in Nassau, Bahamas. The only expedition he made after his retirement was the Nyasaland expedition from 1946-1947. He continued his interest in botany, naturalism and conservation and grew prize-winning orchids. Vernay is also credited with saving the Bahamian flamingo. (6) Vernay died on October 25, 1960 and was survived by his wife Marian Kelley.

Sources

    (1) “Arthur Vernay, Hunter, was 83” The New York Times, (New York, NY), October 26 1960.
    (2) “Natural History Museum’s First Expedition since 1939 to Leave for Africa Wednesday.” The New York Times, (New York, NY), May 4, 1946.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History, Sixty-fifth Annual Report of the American Museum of Natural History Report of the Trustees for the Year 1933 (New York: American Museum of Natural History), 55.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History, Ninety-second Annual Report for the Year 1960-61 (New York: American Museum of Natural History), 8.
    (5) Winterthur Library. “Business Papers of Arthur S. Vernay Inc.” [finding aid]
    (6) American Museum of Natural History. “Arthur Stannard Vernay-Honorary Trustee and Field Associate in the Dept. of Mammalogy” (AMNH Biographical file)

Terms

localDescription
male
place
IndiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
BurmaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
NepalExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
AngolaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
Kalahari DesertExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
MalaysiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
TibetExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
EnglandExternal link
Vernay was born in England and maintained contact with and citizenship to that country.
place
New YorkExternal link
Vernay moved to New York in 1905, and set up his business there. He was associated with that city's American Museum of Natural History.
place
NyasalandExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
Nassau, BahamasExternal link
Vernay retired to his home in Nassau in 1941.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

collaboratesWith
American Museum of Natural History
associated dates: 1922-1947

Vernay did much work collecting on behalf of this institution between 1922 and 1947 and the Museum sponsored his expeditions.
worksWith
Anthony, Harold Elmer
associated dates: 1946-1947

Curator in the Department of Mammalogy, accompanied on the Vernay Nyasaland Expedition as scientist representing mammals.
employedBy
Arthur S. Vernay Incorporated (New York, N.Y.)External link
associated dates: 1906-1941

Vernay's antiques and interior design business in New York.
worksWith
Boulton, Rudyerd
associated dates: 1925, 1930

Accompanied Vernay on the Vernay Angola and Vernay-Lang Kalahari expeditions as a scientist representing ornithology.
worksWith
Brass, Leonard J.
associated dates: 1946-1947

Accompanied on the Vernay Nyasaland Expedition as scientist representing botany.
collaboratesWith
British MuseumExternal link
Sponsor of the Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition.
worksWith
Cutting, Suydam C.
Was co-leader on the Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet and acted as photographer.
participantIn
Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet
Vernay was co-leader of this expedition.
worksWith
Faunthorpe, John Champion
associated dates: 1922-1929

Was co-leader on the Faunthorpe-Vernay Expeditions between 1922 and 1929.
participantIn
Faunthorpe-Vernay Expedition
associated dates: 1922-1923

Vernay was co-leader and financier of this expedition.
collaboratesWith
Field MuseumExternal link
Sponsor of the Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition.
collaboratesWith
Kaffrarian MuseumExternal link
associated dates: 1938-1947

Sponsor of Vernay's Nyasaland expedition, the Director, Captain Guy Shortridge accompanied the expedition.
worksWith
Lang, Herbert
associated dates: 1925, 1930

Curator in the Department of Mammalogy, accompanied Vernay on the Vernay Angola and Vernay-Lang Kalahari expeditionsm as scientist representing mammals.
worksWith
Raven, Harry C.
associated dates: 1934-1935

Accompanied Vernay on the Hopwood Chindwin Expedition as scientist.
worksWith
Rowley, Maj. G.S.
Accompanied on the Vernay Malaysian Expedition as scientist.
worksWith
Shortridge, Captain Guy S.
associated dates: 1946-1947

Director of the Kaffrarian Museum in King Wiliiam's Town, South Africa, accompanied on the Vernay Nyasaland Expedition as scientist
collaboratesWith
Transvaal MuseumExternal link
Sponsor of the Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition.
participantIn
Vernay Angola Expedition
Vernay was leader and financier of this expedition.
participantIn
Vernay Malaysian Expedition
Vernay acted as leader of this expedition.
participantIn
Vernay Nyasaland Expedition
associated dates: 1946-1947

Vernay acted as leader for this Expedition.
spouseOf
Vernay, Marian Kelley
Wife
participantIn
Vernay-Faunthorpe Expedition
associated dates:

Vernay was co-leader and financier of this expedition.
participantIn
Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin Expedition
associated dates: 1934-1935

Vernay was leader and financier of this expedition.
Vernay-Kaffrarian- Zambezi Expedition
???
participantIn
Vernay-Lang Kalahari Expedition
Vernay acted as leader of this expedition.

Related Resources

creatorOf
Business papers of Arthur S. Vernay Inc.
associated dates: 1907-1978

Creator: Arthur S. Vernay, Inc. (New York, NY) Extent: 23 cu. ft. (50 volumes, 19 boxes) Repository:The Winterthur Library, The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum; Call no.: Col. 739
creatorOf
Arthur S. Vernay Field Books.
associated dates: 1922-1924

Creator: Vernay, Arthur Stannard (1877-1960) Extent: 1 box. Repository: AMNH Department of Mammalogy
creatorOf
Arthur S. Vernay Field Books.
associated dates: 1925

Creator: Vernay, Arthur Stannard (1877-1960) Extent: 1 box. Repository: AMNH Department of Herpetology
creatorOf
Cutting-Vernay Tibetan expedition field photographs
Creator: Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet of the American Museum of Natural History Extent: 2 boxes Repository: AMNH Special Collections; Call no.: PPC .C88
creatorOf
Field photographs of the Faunthorpe-Vernay Expedition
associated dates: 1922-1929

Creator: Faunthorpe-Vernay Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History Extent: 1 box Repository: AMNH Special Collections; Call no.: PPC .F38

Written by: Kendra Meyer
Last modified: 2016 November 8


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