London, Sampson Low, Son, 1857. Two parts in one. Small 8vo (17.9 x 13.1 cm). Three title pages (general; and, with engraved vignette, to each part), 235 pp. [viii, 112; vii, 108, (iv)]; 20 hand-coloured engraved plates [12; 8]. Later gilt-bordered burgundy morocco over burgundy linen boards. Spine with five raised bands, gilt-lined borders and two black morocco labels with gilt title. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt.
A rare and finely illustrated work, published at the height of the mid-Victorian "aquarium craze", and characterized by the outstanding plates of aquarium life of both salt water and freshwater aquaria. The British polymath Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879) was known as an accomplished illustrator (the illustrations are his), naturalist, entomologist, and numismatist. "Humphreys, who studied medieval manuscripts in Italy as a young man, became an accomplished scholar in numerous subjects. In addition to his many entomological (lepidopterological) texts, Humphreys wrote works on ancient Greek and Roman coins, archaeology, and the art of writing and printing" (Wikipedia). He also published on medieval illumination and missal paintings. Strangely, his work on aquaria is not mentioned. The freshwater part is in the rear, with pagination and plate numbering starting anew. Plate V of part I acts as frontispiece. The binding, though later, is attractive. A very good copy. Dean I, p. 611; Nissen ZBI, 2055.