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WILLUGHBY, Francis (1635-1672)

De Historia Piscium libri quatuor, jussu & sumptibus Societatis Regiae Londinensis EDITIi.Totum opus recognovit, coaptavit, supplevit, librum etiamprimum & secundum integros adjecit J. Raius e Societate Regia.

Londini, C. Davis, 1743. including an additional engraved title page dated 1685 and signed "Paul van Somer" showing a miraculous catch of fish, fishermen holding a dragnet, a herald announcing the arrival of fresh fish and Pallas Athene drawing a cod, A reissue of the 1686 edition, The Royal Society authorised this re-issue in 1740 (published in 1743). 187 full-page engraved plates with a title-page dated 1743 and the addition of a 12 pp. index by C. Mortimer. Folio (377 x 235 mm), pp. 8, 344, 32, 12, 12.  Engraved head-pieces. Contemporary calf, gilt rules consisting of flower motifs on both covers, spine with raised bands and compartments with black armorial tooling (old rebacking), red gilt-lettered label, outer turn-ins and all edges gilt. Contemporary unobtrusive scholarly pencil annotations to text and plates, joints and corners slightly rubbed. Some of the plates bear contemporary letterpress cancel slips over their captions.

A well preserved and attractive copy. A letter signed by John Van Voorst was found inside the copy.

The Historia Piscium, although it bears only Willughby's name (1635-1672) on the title page, is in large part the work of John Ray (1627-1705). Both scholars had gathered the principal materials for their book on a journey to France, Germany and Italy from 1663 to 1666. Willughby described and dissected all sampled fish and Ray arranged them under classes and families. As for species, the authors assembled not only those that they described from nature, amounting to 178, but also those (including the drawings) of Rondelet, Belon, Salviani, Gessner, Collaert, Piso, van Schonevelde (von Schoenfeld) and others, whose descriptions they interpolated with their own. The total number came to 420. But Willughby and Ray occasionally failed to recognize that some species were identical to others taken from the preceding works, so there is some duplication (Pietsch, 1995). New illustrations to their work are marked with a dagger. The text of the first edition was printed at the expense of Bishop John Fell, while the plates were financed by several members of the Royal Society, particularly by the Society's president Samuel Pepys to whom the work is dedicated. Each plate bears the name of the donor. Nissen, Schöne Fischbücher, 1951, 130.

Price: € 4500.00


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