Wollaston, T. V.
London, John van Voorst, 1877. 8vo (22.0 x 14.0 cm). xxv, 256 pp.; one engraved plate. Publisher's blind-stamped cloth with gilt title on the spine.
The first monograph on the beetles of Saint Helena in the subtropical South Atlantic. As could be expected from a very isolated island-fauna most species described in this work are endemic and new, and several were new until Thomas Vernon Wollaston, FLS (1822-1878) himself described them in previous, much smaller papers. Nine species are figured. This work is one of a series of eight island faunal studies, the others being on the insects of Madeira (published in 1854), Madeira, Salvages, and Canaries (1865), Cape-Verde Archipelago (1867), the Coleoptera of Madeira in the British Museum (1857), as well as those of the Canaries (1864), on the landshells of the Atlantic islands (1878), and on the variation of species, with especial reference to the insecta (1858). The latter paper in particular is an important contribution to evolution. However, Wollaston, concluded from his researches that species were created under a divine plan to best suit local circumstances. Published in the year previous to Darwin's "On the origin of species", it was kindly received by Darwin. In turn, Wollaston, who could not shed his religious beliefs, published quite a negative review of Darwin's work. Thereafter sympathy between both men although they were working on much the same subject deteriorated slowly but steadily. The present work is certainly one of Wollaston's rarest, market-wise. Uncommon in zoological libraries (with about 25 copies in the World Cat listing), hardly a single copy has been for sale during the last 30 years, and auction records are wanting. Tiny cut in front board edge, the plate a bit foxed, curiously mostly on the figures, otherwise an excellent clean copy. Very rare. Although illustrated not in Nissen ZBI. Hagen II, p. 294-295; Horn-Schenkling II(4), p. 454.