London, Skinner, 1786 [AND] London, Kearsley, Walker, Sewell, Flexney, Robson and Egerton, 1786. Two works in one. 4to (25.0 x 20.2 cm). "Wunderkammer" frontispiece; title page, viii, 3-194 pp.; Title page, 5-44 pp. Mid-20th-century dark blue buckram with gilt title on the spine.
The two catalogues of the most important sale of shells of the 18th century (the collection of Margaret Bentinck Cavendish [1715-1785], Duchess of Portland); these being the copies belonging to the most important sale of shell books of the 21st century (the library of Richard Irwin Johnson [1925-2020]). Both works published anonymously, but the first known to be written by the British malacologist and botanist John Lightfoot (1735-1788). The second catalogue, containing all the sales results, including lot prices and buyer's names, is extremely rare. Sometimes, copies of the Portland Museum catalogue are found with the data present in this second work added as handwritten marginalia. The alternate idea that these data were obtained by different writers during the 39-day sale [NOT 38 days, as intended] is speculative and probably incorrect in most (if not all) instances, particularly as all data across different copies match exactly. These are the Richard Johnson copies, which formed a basis of Johnson's publication, The Duchess, the Brahmin, and the Chank Shell, which we include. Also added is a copy of S. Peter Dance's The Authorship of the Portland Catalogue (1786), with a handwritten dedication by Dance to Johnson (paper a bit creased). Some weak dampstaining to the second catalogue, and some occasional, weak spotting, as usual, but in all very good, complete. Cat. BM(NH) Suppl. pp. 79 (under Bentinck)1023 (under Portland); Chalmers-Hunt Natural History Auctions 1700-1972. A Register of sales in the British Isles, p. 62; Dance, A History of Shell Collecting, pp. 75-76; Fearrington, Rooms of Wonder, 103. Not in Caprotti.