Conventionally, specimen dealers’ business publications have not been discussed in the same light as their academic writing. The present study, however, examines the catalogs of butterfly specimens issued by the company Dr. O. Staudinger & A. Bang-Haas to elucidate the latent dynamics that shaped intellectual discourse and commercial ventures. By the end of the nineteenth century, the pricing by Staudinger & Bang-Haas was widely accepted as the benchmark within the German entomological community. The company’s exclusive control over the entomological market had two outcomes. First, the establishment of standard prices facilitated the global circulation of specimens by providing a convenient tool to assess the marketability of butterflies. It convinced entrepreneurs in faraway regions of the prospects of collecting for the transnational supply chain of natural history. This was the case for Meiji Japan (1868–1912), where the business opportunity presented by the price margins between Japan and Europe lured ambitious local entrepreneurs into the trade. Second, Staudinger’s price lists effectively conjured epistemic authority from his market position. The company’s catalogs and the dealer’s academic publications, sharing the same readership, worked in tandem to create a school in systematics. The absence of a unified system of classification, the proliferation of taxonomic novelties, the heavy selling of specimens collected from far and wide, all worked in favor of the catalogs. Their readers put the company’s commercial prints on a par with Staudinger’s academic publications, enabling him to sustain his epistemic authority through his privileged access to this alternative channel of communication.

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