First edition of a work on tropical marine fish with an unknown additional watercolour

Bennett, J. W.

A selection from the most remarkable and interesting of the fishes found on the coast of Ceylon. From drawings made in the southern part of that island from the living specimens.

Published [1828]-1830
Item ID 73456

excl. VAT

London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, [1828-] 1830. 4to (31.2 x 24.6 cm). With 30 splendidly hand-coloured engraved plates, all heightened with gum arabic, each with a descriptive leaf of text [AND] one extra original water-colour. Contemporary green ruled half calf over marbled boards; spine with gilt ornaments and title. Yellow endpapers. Top edge gilt. Preserved in a custom-made black cloth, luxurious, clamshell box with built-in cradle and black label with gilt title on the spine.

First edition of probably the most spectacular publication on tropical fish, renowned for its accuracy and beauty. Bound in is a fine watercolour drawing on wove paper, most probably by Bennett. All plates are vividly coloured and belong to the very best ever made on the subject. '[C]ontains 30 hand-coloured plates which are so lovely that it is one of my favourite old natural history books on any subject' (Buchanan). Many species were new to science. Bennett included the local names, even in the local script. The work was twice reprinted. Some say that the first edition is the best. All editions are rare. The author, John Whitchurch Bennett (1790-1853) was a British army surgeon, posted in Ceylon, and a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Among his other published works are: The Coco-nut Palm, Its Uses and Cultivation (1836), and Ceylon and Its Capabilities: An Account of Its Natural Resources, Indigenous Productions, and Commercial Facilities (1843). A fine, near spotless copy, with the fabulous colouring accurate and very bright. Buchanan, Nature into Art, p. 147; Nissen, Schöne Fischbücher, 15; Nissen ZBI, 316; Dean I, p. 100.

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