J. J. Smith was born June 29th, 1867, at Antwerp, where his father was the director of the Netherlands’ Railway Post Office. In 1872 the family moved to Utrecht and in 1875 to Amsterdam. Smith spent his school days in the capital. His leisure hours were occupied by growing and sketching plants and tending such animals as mice and keeping an aquarium and a terrarium. His 10th birthday was celebrated by the establishment of a private herbarium, the first plant inserted being Bellis perennis. His years at secondary school were greatly influenced by the then teacher of Natural History, Dr J. C. Costerus, who advised Smith to look for a position in horticulture. Horticultural schools being not yet ”en vogue“, Smith got his education in this field at the Horticulturist’s Messrs Groenewegen & Co., Amsterdam. In these years the Orchids began to impress him and Smith spent his few free hours in making pictures of flowering species. The connection with Dr Costerus was continued. Together they looked after their herbaria and later on started to study teratologica, found in the Groenewegen gardens and greenhouses, a field in which both would publish several valuable papers later on. After having been working for his firm for 3½ years, Smith went to Kew where he stayed one year and afterwards to Brussels for completing his horticultural knowledge and skill. At Brussels he was working one year in the famous Orchid nursery of Messrs Linden, and then another year at the ”Jardin Botanique“.