CATESBY, MARK. c.1679-1749.
The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands: containing the figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects, and Plants: Particularly those not hiterto described, or incorrectly figured by former Authors... London: Printed for Benjamin White, 1771 [map and plates watermarked 1815-1816].
2 volumes. , 2, vii, [1 blank], xliv, 100; , 2, 120, [6 index] pp. Contents leaves present. Text in English and French. Descriptions printed in 2 columns. Hand-colored engraved double-page map; 220 hand-colored etched plates, by and after Catesby and most signed with his monogram, except for plates 61 and 96 in vol 2 by Georg Dionysius Ehret; etched head-pieces. Folio (530 x 350 mm). Modern half morocco over cloth, spine gilt-lettered, old gilt to edges. Text with intermittent pale browning, ink number at foot of 1st contents leaf and a plate verso, pagination punched through on vol 1, p 67/68. Plates with some mild toning, occasionally uneven, occasional modest fingersoiling or handling creases, last several leaves and plates of vol 1 with pressed creases. Complete list of etchings with additional condition notes available on request.
THIRD EDITION, later issue, without the two dedication leaves and subscribers list and etchings on wove paper watermarked (where visible) Whatman, 1815 or 1816. Catesby spent from 1712 to 1719 in Virginia and returned to England with an impressive collection of plants. His work attracted the notice of Sir Hans Sloane who helped fund Catesby's second trip to Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the Bahamas from 1722 to 1729. Catesby again returned to England and prepared this natural history. To reduce costs, Catesby learned to etch the plates himself. Most remarkably, Catesby prepared his compositions to depict birds, butterflies and other animals in their natural settings. He was the first natural historian to combine ornithological details with botanical ones. The first edition was published in parts and completed in 1747. It is the earliest color plate book on American birds. Its popularity was such that a second edition was required, highly unusual for a book of this expense. The second edition was undertaken by George Edwards and released in 1754. This third edition follows Edwards' revisions. Anker 95; Ellis/Mengel 478; Fine Bird Books p 65; Nissen IVB 177; Wolf pp 5-7.
Acquisition: purchased from William Reese Company, 1994, $75,000.