Amsterdam, Fredrik Muller, 1862. Folio (45.9 x 33.2 cm). 132 pp.; 49 large, superbly chromo-lithographed plates. Contemporary half linen over grained boards with original printed front wrapper mounted on the front board.
This is the complete Muraenidae (moray eel) and eel section of the only major monograph of the fishes of the Indo-Pacific. It is very well executed indeed, with clear descriptions, full synonymy and, above all, splendid full-colour plates. Wilhelm Junk, in Rara writes: 'les planches chromo-lithographiées sont d'une exécution magnifique et sont en effet les meilleures que la litérature moderne d'Ichthyologie a produit. Bleeker est l'auteur le plus fertile de sa science'. In 1842, the medical doctor Pieter Bleeker (1819-1878) started collecting fish when stationed in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). However, it took him almost two decades of collecting and describing before the first issue of his magnum opus was published. It may be regarded as the first illustrated compilation of numerous smaller, and often unillustrated works published by Bleeker from 1846 onwards, which occupy no fewer than 20 pages in Dean's bibliography of fishes. At Bleeker's death the Atlas was still unfinished, but this part – which was also offered separately – was completed. The edition of the present work must have been very small, as Bleeker mentions only 60 subscribers in his biography. Numbering is double: plates I-XLIX for the complete Volume IV (= Moray eel and eel section); CXLV-CXCII for the whole work. Spine and board edges with some wear; a few plates slightly age-toned. Small stamp of a defunct Dutch library in the top margin of the front free endpaper and title, otherwise a very good, clean copy. Dean I, p. 130; Junk, Rara p. 140; Nissen ZBI, 409; Nissen, Schöne Fischbücher, 17.