Dr R.T. Bannister was probably the most notable beetle collector to have carried out fieldwork in Cornwall. He lived in Penzance for approximately 50 years and catalogued around 16,000 beetles, three quarters of which were from Cornwall.
The first records date from 1922 until a few months before Dr Bannister's death in 1976. His collection was then donated to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro by his wife. There were approximately 12,200 specimens in 48 boxes and cabinets, together with two large catalogues, a card index and numerous loose papers related to the collection and to Dr Bannister himself.
In the past, ERCCIS had entered approximately 2,100 records from the card index onto its computer database. These records were only a summary of the full records however. In 2006 to 2007 the museum entered the basic storage details, such as the specimen name and location, onto its MODES (Museum Object Data Entry System) database.
As Dr Bannister kept a catalogue holding all the details relating to the capture of each specimen, ERCCIS has been able to expand the database record. Each entry has been tagged with the data associated with its capture: the date, location, vice-county, sex and habitat. In addition, ERCCIS has created a set of grid references for every location that Dr Bannister surveyed to facilitate further study. This work has enhanced the value of this very important collection and makes it more accessible to researchers.
In addition, Dr Bannister kept a complete Coleoptera species list of the county derived from his own work and other sources, all of which are referenced. The combination of this list with the enhanced database should prove to be of great value. Even as this work was being carried out, ERCCIS were able to confirm that an oil beetle, Meloe brevicollis, thought to be long extinct in Britain, until found in Devon in 2006, was last recorded by Dr Bannister near Pendeen in 1951.