Paris, Carolum Stephanum, 1553. Oblong 8vo (9.9 x 16.2 cm). [xxxii (index)], 448 pp., with 187 woodcut illustrations. In contemporary hand-colouring. Late 19th-century period style green morocco. Spine with four raised, gilt-lined bands, compartments with gilt floral vignettes and gilt title. Boards with blind-tooled borders with gilt floral corner pieces, intricate gilt inner dentelles and marbled endpapers. All edges gilt.
First edition of a very rare, pioneering, ichthyological and herpetological book. Exceptionally rare in a contemporary coloured state. "...there are three great authors who truly founded modern ichthyology. It is remarkable that their books appeared at almost the same time: Belon in 1553, Rondelet in 1554 and 1555, and Salviani from 1554 to 1558. All three, contrary to the compilers who mainly quoted the old Roman authors, personally saw and examined the fishes they spoke of and saw to it that they were drawn with some exactitude... In his De Aquatilibus , Belon provided drawings of 110 species of fishes, including 22 cartilaginous species and 17 freshwater species; and he discussed about 20 other species for which he gives no drawings. Nearly all the marine fishes are Mediterranean, but there are also some species from the Paris fish market." - Cuvier (Pietsch), p. 42. The woodcuts show fishes as well as a turtle (from two sides), several lizards, a chameleon, crocodiles, hippo, whales and dolphins, and the famous "sea monk". Bookplate mounted on front pastedown; some very small contemporary notes written in old hand in the margins of pp. 1-5. Four leaves with some old paper repairs, mostly marginal but in one case touching two letters. About 12 leaves with a small and faint dampstain to corners. A very occasional scattered spot but in all a very clean and nice copy. Binding with expert repair to top left corner of cover. Dean III, p. 216; Nissen Schöne Fischbücher, 13; Nissen ZBI, 302; Wood, p. 230.