Catesby Natural History Carolina 1771
Mark Catesby. The Natural History of Carolina,
Florida, and the Bahama Islands: Containing the Figures of Birds,
Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects and Plants; Particularly, those
not hitherto described, or incorrectly figured by former Authors,
with their Descriptions in English and
French...London: for Benjamin White, 1771.
Two large folio volumes (14 x 21 inches; 360 x 533 mm).
Titles and text in English and French. Originally issued with 220 hand-colored etched plates, by and after Catesby and mostly signed with his cipher (apart from three plates by George Ehret in the second volume), this collection is lacking 38 plates, as well as the double-page hand-colored engraved map.
Although ostensibly from the 1771 edition, some plates have been added from other eighteenth century editions. The plates on average measure 14 x 21 inches with some variation. There are a few smaller format plates. Text and plates printed on paper with various watermarks, the latest dated 1794. The plates may have some edge wear with small tears, foxing, darkening, light staining, minor paper loss, or other minor imperfections. Nevertheless, a wonderful collection of plates in an overall very good condition.
Loosely laid into handsome modern full dark green morocco bindings by Bayntun of Bath, England. Covers decoratively bordered in gilt; spines decoratively panelled and lettered in gilt with five gilt-ruled raised bands; board edges decoratively tooled in gilt; turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers. The Supplement text also in a full dark green morocco binding.
[Together with:] An additional title to Volume I (1771), Preface, pages i-xliv, "A Catalogue" (Volume I); title to Volume II, "A Catalogue" (Volume II), and The Index (6 pages). Bound in full black morocco by the Harcourt Bindery, Boston (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper).
The most famous color-plate book of American plant and animal life...It is a delightful and amusing book...[and] a fundamental and original work for the study of American species" (Hunt).
"Mark Catesby made a valuable and important contribution to ornithological illustration. He was confident enough to break new ground-to portray his birds more naturally than before, with foliage backgrounds, and to adopt the folio format. He depicted the natural history of one area in its entirety, and often drew from living models. He was the first in a long line of ornithologists to teach himself to translate his drawings into a medium that produced multiple copies. As his was the earliest published natural history of a part of the New World, he has been called 'the father of American ornithology'" (Jackson, Bird Etchings, pages 86-87).
Sold as a collection of plates; sold with all faults.
Copenhagen/Anker 95. Ellis/Mengel 475. Fine Bird Books, page 65. Great Flower Books, page 53. Hunt 486 (describing the first edition). McGill/Wood, page 282. Nissen, BBI, 336. Nissen, IVB, 177. Nissen, SVB, 94. Nissen, ZBI, 842. Pritzel 1602. Sabin 11509.
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