I hope I can learn a lot from your group regarding the history of insect collecting (who are the greatest insect collectors in history, what is the rarest/most collectible insect collection catalogue, what is the best book around on the history of insect collecting?, etc., etc.).
The best book on the History of Butterfly collecting in Britain, which details early entomological equipment and their collectors is the The Aurelian Legacy (2000) by Michael Salmon, which will probably never be surpassed. The best book I have yet found on the history of Collectors in the United States is the superb Butterfly People (2013) by William Leach. I am not sure what, if any books there are that detail the many famous French, German, and other insect collectors/entomologists from other countries. There have been so many great field and Museum insect collectors that it would be very hard to pick just a single person, as different entomologists will have their favourites, it usually depends on what insect families/orders they study themselves.
I highly recommend the following book from an earlier post on InsectNet:
To anyone interested in the history of natural history and the naturalist's tradition, I recommend "Ordering Life - Karl Jordan and the Naturalist Tradition" by Kristin Johnson (2012). It chronicles the life of Karl Jordan, a German entomologist (1861-1959) and his work with Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) among others. The son of a wealthy financier, Walter Rothschild amassed one of the largest private natural history collections in the world, known as the Tring Museum, which upon his death was bequeathed to the British Museum where Jordan eventually worked. Jordan was a Tring curator, taxonomist and flea and Anthribidae specialist. He emphasized the need for large series of specimens to encompass both individual and geographic variation and was a major proponent of trinomials to describe subspecies. Rothschild's and Jordan's 1903 "Revision of the lepidopterous family Sphingidae" raised the bar among entomologists practicing "scientific systematics" and remains a classic. Ordering Life also details how all scientific endeavors are influenced by the social, political and economic climates of the time, in this case the European aristocracy and two world wars. Both had great impacts on the ability of naturalists to conduct their work as did the emerging fields of genetics and applied entomology. Karl Jordan, who alone or with a coauthor described over 3,426 species of insects, published his last of 420 papers in 1958 and certainly played his part in ordering life.