From Ann Timbrell   24 July 1879

Silk Farm.

Plenty Road.


Thursday. July 24. 1879

My dear Baron:—

I am sincerely obliged to you for your kindness; and am delighted to hear of your accession to the title of K.C.M.G. but I am afraid that you have over-estimated my small silk samples from the Osage Orange.2

I now enclose another curiosity. Some months ago, I noticed a paragraph in one of the newspapers, about a M. Brunet having succeeded in obtaining "Silk from the bark of a mulberry tree": so, last night, I tried an experiment, with what result, you can now judge from the accompanying paper.3

It is only interesting as a novelty in Sericultural Science; and, please to remember, it is only my first effort.

I am going to try again: and, will send you some Silkworm eggs very soon.

Allowe me to remain

Yours sincerely

Ann Timbrell4


In the second edition of Select extra-tropical plants (B81.13.10), p. 185, M noted under Maclura aurantiaca: 'Mrs Timbrell, at the surmise of the author, has shown that the foliage is as good a food for silkworms as that of the white mulberry, and the silk produced is no way inferior to ordinary silk.'

A small piece of paper (about 9 x 11 cm.) is glued to the front of the folio. Two samples of fibre, one off-white, the other pinkish-purple, are attached by thread on one side of the paper, and below them Timbrell has written: 'Respectfully presented as a novelty in sericultural science to Baron Ferd. von Muëller. K.C.M.G. &c &c'

Below the off-white sample she has written: 'natural: as extracted from mulberry bark' and below the purple one: 'dyed: with magenta'.

Opposite these she has written: 'Mrs Timbrell's first attempt at procuring a substitute for Silk, from the fibre of mulberry bark. The experiment was made on the night of Wednesday, July 23. 1879, at her Silk Farm, Plenty Road, Collingwood near Melbourne. Probably, the next operation may be an improvement on the above result.'

The signature is in a much larger and freer hand than the text of the letter and the notes, in which the writing is small and almost Copperplate and may be that of an amanuensis.
illegible — Obscured by binding.

Please cite as “FVM-79-07-24,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 17 April 2024,