Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World (Crystal Palace Guide 15) | EGP

Crystal Palace Dinosaurs | Professor Joe Cain

9781906267360 Richard Owen 1854 Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient Worldlabel_crystal-palace-guide-15
Richard Owen’s original guide to the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and displayed in Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham, London since 1854. These life-sized sculptures of prehistoric “monsters” included dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles, and other antediluvian beasts. Owen’s guide gave visitors technical descriptions of underlying biology and geology. The goal was to move beyond mere sensational display to create accurate and sophisticated ‘visual education’ for visitors to the park. The result is a celebration of British geology at the very height of its expertise. Complete facsimile of 1854 edition.

Owen didn’t write about all the statues, and there’s more to the geological displays in the park than the statues. Additional material is presented in the general guide to the park:

For a complete understanding of the dinosaur statues, the other statues, and the related landscaping of the park, both guides are necessary. George Baxter’s famous image provides an additional vantage point. It is the Iguanodon statue that holds place in popular imagination for the New Years Eve Dinner in the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs.

Euston Grove Press offers a directory to the complete list of handbooks created by the Crystal Palace Company for visitors to its displays and exhibitions in Crystal Palace Park.


Richard Owen was Hunterian Professor and Conservator at the Royal College of Surgeons and soon to be Superintendent of the Natural History Department at the British Museum, later the Natural History Museum (London). He served as a consultant to Hawkins on this project. Owen was one of the most important paleontologists and comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He invented the taxonomic category of dinosaurs. This guide shows Owen’s biases and special interests.

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins did not author the guide. However, he promoted his work in a lecture on “visual education” that he delivered in 1853 and 1954 when promoting the attraction.


  • Owen, Richard. 1854. Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World  (London: Euston Grove Press), 48 pages. 2013 facsimile edition.
    ISBN 9781906267360 (paperback)
    dimensions: A5 8.3 x 5.8 (inches)
    dimensions: A5 210 x 148 (mm)

A previous edition was published in 2010 using ISBN 9781906267148. That edition now is out-of-print.