Biology & Natural History
Bewick, Thomas | A History of British Birds
The seventh edition of one of the finest illustrated ornithology books ever published, the first field guide affordable to the middle class. This being the final edition to include new wood engravings, including Bewick’s last bird engraving, the Cream Coloured Plover. An attractive set, the contents fresh.
“In early May 1825, near Helpston in Northampstonshire, the poet John Clare saw a small brown bird that he could not identify. Did anyone, he asked his friend Joseph Henderson, have a copy of Bewick’s Birds? All lovers of birds in these years looked to Bewick. He spoke directly to a man like Clare, a former farm worker and lime burner who knew every inch of the fields around his home, and to Henderson, head gardener at the nearby hall. Bewick was in his seventies by then, but he came from the same world as them, growing up on a small-holding in the Tyne Valley... He was a fine naturalist himself, and his work combined keen, detailed observation with a new approach showing animals and birds in their natural settings, as part of the whole great interrelated web of nature. ‘Nature’ and God fused together in Bewick’s vision, as a rolling force that infused every aspect of life, from the habits of an ant to the vastness of the universe, ‘this sublime, this amazing, this mighty work of Suns and Worlds innumerable’. He felt its darkness as well as its beauty and his work touched the dawning Romantic age: Wordsworth was among the first to sing his praises and Charlotte Brontë placed his prints of icy seas in the hands of her young heroine, Jane Eyre” (Uglow, Nature’s Engraver, pp. xvii-xviii).
Newcastle: for R. E. Bewick, sold by him, Longman and Co., 1832.
2 volumes, octavo (211 x 129 mm). Mid-19th century calf, spines elaborately gilt in compartments with floral tools, brown morocco labels, double gilt fillets, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers and edges. Wood engravings throughout. Bindings a little rubbed with a few small scuffs and abrasions, including a one and a half cm abrasion affecting a title label on volume I, light spotting to the title of volume II but otherwise the contents are clean and fresh. Very good condition.
Buick, Thomas Lindsay | The Mystery of the Moa: New Zealand's Avian Giant.
First edition, first impression. An unusually attractive copy in the scarce dust jacket. The Mystery of the Moa is a scientific and historical narrative of the giant birds of New Zealand, covering their origin in prehistory, behavior and habitat, relationship to Maori culture, extinction, and the European search for fossils and living specimens. The plates include photographs of Moa skeletons and eggs (including the famous image of Sir Richard Owen next to the York specimen), New Zealand landscapes, and Maori and European individuals associated with the Moa.
Author Thomas Lindsay Buick (1865-1938) "was a man of considerable intellectual ability, substantially self-educated, who began writing New Zealand history by chance but soon developed a lasting commitment to the task. During a busy career as a journalist he managed to write 12 books and a small number of pamphlets, many of which he published at his own expense. Buick had a fluent prose style and a firm sense of narrative structure. He synthesised a wide range of printed sources and, particularly for his earlier works, sought out eyewitnesses and others closely associated with historical events. Through The Treaty of Waitangi and other books and speeches, he played an important role in establishing the treaty as New Zealand's foremost historical document, asserting that it was 'in very truth the foundation of our nationhood'. He belongs to the small group of New Zealand-born historians, including Robert McNab, James Cowan and Elsdon Best, writing in the first quarter of the twentieth century, who worked out of a sense of duty and with little or no financial reward to make New Zealand's past readily accessible to the general reader" (Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand online).
- Published under the auspices of The Board of Maori Ethnological Research. Illustrated. New Plymouth, NZ: Thomas Avery & Sons Limited, 1931. Octavo. Original dark blue-green pebble cloth boards, titles to spine and upper board gilt. With the dust jacket. Frontispiece and 26 plates. Corner of upper board bumped, cloth a little dulled, white mark to upper board, a little light spotting to edges of text block and occasionally to contents. A very good copy in the jacket that is generally fresh with a few spots, a faint ring to the upper board, and some small chips and short closed tears.
Coupin, H. & John Lea | The Romance of Animal Arts & Crafts
- A handsomely bound copy of this illustrated book on structures built by animals, including insect and bird nests, burrows and tunnels, homes bored into rock and wood, and constructions of mud and natural cements. Originally published in 1906 or 07.
- Being an Interesting Account of the Spinning, Weaving, Sewing, Manufacture of Paper and Pottery, Aeronautics, Raft-Building, Road-Making, and Various Other Industries of Wild-Life. With Many Illustrations. London: Seely, Service & Co. Limited, 1927. Octavo (187 x126 mm). Contemporary red half calf prize binding for the City of London Freeman's School, spine gilt in compartments, crest to upper board gilt, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Frontispiece and 15 plates, 2 illustrations within the text. Prize bookplate. Spine a little faded, a little rubbing at the extremities, light spotting to edges of text block. An excellent copy.
Day, Lewis F. | Nature and Ornament
First editions, first printings of this uncommon two-volume set on designing from nature by Lewis F. Day (1845-1910).
"Day took from his early training a special interest in stained glass design, gradually acquiring a wider reputation as a designer for textiles, pottery, carpets, wallpapers, silver, and many other branches of manufacture. His designs were always carefully adapted to the material in which they were to be carried out, and to the processes of manufacture which had to be employed. He belonged to the same school of artist–craftsmen as William Morris and Walter Crane, and his influence on contemporary ornament, if not so fully recognized as that of those two artists, was considerable. An important educator in design, many of the best-known designers of his day were taught by him and benefited from his belief in natural forms of ornament and high standards of craftsmanship" (ODNB).
- Nature the Raw Material of Design [with] Ornament The Finished Product of Design. London: B. T. Batsford, 1908 & 1909. 2 volumes, octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spines and upper boards in white, patterned endpapers. Illustrations throughout. Contemporary ownership inscription to each half title. Volume I with minor bumping of the corners, partial fading of the spine and upper board, and a couple of small spots; spines rolled, spotting to edges of text block and particularly to the preliminaries. A very good set.
Goedart, Johannes | De Insectis [Metamorphosis Naturalis]
The uncommon second Latin edition of this “extremely important and influential study” (Jorink, Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, p. 201), the translation by Fellow of the Royal Society Martin Lister, with his notes and addendum on English species. Originally published in three volumes under the title Metamorphosis Naturalis between 1660 and 1669.
The Dutch painter Johannes Goedart (also spelled Goedaert; 1617-1668) was the first European to “embark on a systematic study of the generation of insects” (Jorink, “Between Emblematics and the ‘Argument from Design’, Early Modern Zoology, p. 156). Beginning in the 1630s, he painstakingly traversed the countryside around his home in Middelburg, collecting caterpillars and other insect larvae, raising them in glass jars, and carefully observing their “strange transformations”.
Although Goedart did not make any major scientific advances in entomology or taxonomy - he interpreted his observations within the framework of his religion and was a strong supporter of spontaneous generation - his work is significant for the emphasis it placed on metamorphosis at a time when other natural historians focused on insect life stages in isolation from each other. Additionally, Goedart was innovative in his choice of subjects, including, among the 150-plus species he described, previously neglected groups such as flies, bumblebees, wood lice, and moths out of the conviction that none of God’s creatures were to be “despised, but that they are all disposed well and with ineffable wisdom”. Also appealing are his detailed and well-executed plates, which depict all the stages of each insect’s life-cycle together.
Though Goedart’s work was criticised by scientists such as Swammerdam, it proved extremely popular among collectors and artists. “Metamorphosis was accessible, entertaining, and attractively illustrated… the work was very widely distributed and was often translated and cited. It was common in Dutch collections of books, but was also popular outside the Netherlands… Goedaert provided a particularly strong impulse for the study of other insects than the usual bees, ants, and butterflies. His accessible books conveyed the same message as the works of Hoefnagel and Aldrovandi, but the contents and distribution of the latter raised their threshold much higher… It is probably to a large extent due to Goedaert that the study and collecting of these creatures began to enjoy a rapidly growing popularity after 1660. Insects, which had been viewed ambivalently since time immemorial, were slowly but surely becoming acceptable in polite society” (Jorink, Reading the Book of Nature, pp. 208-209). This volume is a particularly nice, unsophisticated copy in contemporary vellum with an attractive hand-written title on the spine.
in Methodum Redactus; cum Notularum Additione. Opera M. Lister, e Regia Societate Londinensi. Item Appendicis ad Historam Animalium Angliae, Ejusdem M. Lister, Altera Editio Scarabaeorum Anglicanorum quibusdam Tabulis mutis. London: S. Smith, 1685. Octavo (180 x 115 mm). Contemporary limp vellum folded over at the fore-edge, handwritten title to spine, edges of text block red speckled. 21 folding engraved plates depicting numerous insects on each plate. Marks, spots, and dulling of the vellum, spine may have been cleaned in the past, hinges a little cracked but holding firm, light spotting and toning at the edges of the leaves, closed tear to the final plate in the addendum which depicts mussels A very good, unsophisticated copy.
Grew, Nehemiah | The Anatomy of Vegetables Begun
First edition of the founding text of scientific botany.
Author Nehemiah Grew began his career as a physician but soon developed an interest in plant anatomy, in part because the subject had not yet been rigorously investigated.
"Grew was a conscious pioneer in a hitherto neglected area... His work was primarily marked by his brilliant observation and description of plants and their component parts; having begun by making observations using only the naked eye, Grew supplemented these with the use of a microscope under the tutelage of his colleague Hooke. His presentations to the society began in 1672–4 with the roots, branches, and trunks of plants, proceeding thereafter to their leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. In each area he was innovative, studying for the first time many features of plants that have since been taken for granted, such as their cell-like structure and the growth rings in wood, and deploying techniques which have since become commonplace, such as the use of transverse, radial, and tangential longitudinal sections to analyse the structure of stems and roots. He was also an innovator in the terminology he used to describe plants, first using such terms as ‘radicle’ or ‘parenchyma’, a word adapted from its use in animal anatomy by Francis Glisson. Grew was primarily interested in the morphology and taxonomy of plants, but this led him to study plant physiology; he thus considered how buds grew, how seeds developed, and other related topics. He also recognized the sexual nature of plant reproduction, though, with characteristic modesty, he acknowledged that this idea had already occurred to the physician Sir Thomas Millington" (ODNB).
The Anatomy of Vegetables was Grew's first and most important book, and was not superseded until the 19th century.
- With a General Account of Vegetation Founded Thereon. London: for Spencer Hickman, 1672. Octavo. Contemporary calf rebacked to style. 3 folding engraved plates. A few contemporary annotations in ink. Sympathetically rebacked with professional repairs to corners and edges, unevenly trimmed slightly affecting some words in the dedication and on a few other pages, some fraying and minor worming to fore-edge, a little spotting and toning to contents, professional tissue repairs to the edges of the Royal Society permission leaf and title page, minor dampstaining to margins of final leaves. A very good copy. Bibliography: Norman 944; Dibner 21; Wing G-1946; Morton, pp. 178-195.
Martius, Ernst Wilhelm | Neueste Anweisung, Pflanzen nach dem Leben abzudruken
First edition of this rare work on nature printing, an unsophisticated copy in the original wrappers, with four delicately produced plates, an unusually high number. Of the copies in institutional catalogues with plate counts listed, that in the German National Museum contains four plates, the Bavarian State Library copy contains three plates, those at Strasbourg, Munich, and Harvard have two plates, and the Bonn copy has only one.The plates provided are not always the same, with those present here being bittersweet, club moss, lilly of the valley, and belladonna.
Author Ernst Wilhelm Martius (1756-1849) was a Regensburg apothecary, university instructor, and founding member of the Regensberg Botanical Society. He “devised a better way of inking leaves on a polished copper plate: the copper shining through made it easy to see whether any areas were underinked. Martius’s largest work containing nature prints was Icones Planatrum Originales (Original Images of Plants), issued in 1780. His method of working was shown in his Neueste Anweisung, Pflanzen nach dem Leben abzudrucken (New Instructions on Taking Fresh Prints from Plants) published in Wetzlar in 1784” (Cave, Impressions of Nature, p. 52). Of particular interest in Neueste Anweisung is the illustration on the title page depicting the press Martius devised, and the work also includes a history of nature printing (based on that of Beckmann) and a list of subscribers.
...Nebst einigen abgedrukten Pflanzen. Wetzlar: Winkler (for the author), 1784.
Octavo. Original grey wrappers. 4 folding plates, engraving depicting Martius’s press to the title, headpiece and tailpiece. Contemporary inked shelf number “244” to spine. Wrappers foxed and a little creased at the extremities with short closed tears at the ends of the spine, spotting and toning to contents, small square area on the back wrapper which may be an old repair. A very good copy.
Morris, Simon Conway | The Crucible of Creation
First edition, first impression and a beautiful copy in fine condition.
This volume by leading palaeobiologist Simon Conway Morris describes the discovery and interpretation of fossils from the famed Burgess Shale in Canada, which dates from the Cambrian period 545 million years ago. Prior to this time most living things were loosely organised colonies of single-celled organisms. But the Cambrian saw a dramatic increase in diversity, with the evolution of many new body types and survival strategies. The majority of animal and plant body plans we know today evolved during the Cambrian, and it has been a source of mystery and scientific debate since the early 19th century. The Burgess Shale is a rich source of Cambrian fossils, most so well preserved that the soft parts of the animals can be studied, providing important insights into the evolution of life as we know it.
Morris played a key role in interpreting the Burgess Shale fossils, and in this volume he gives his perspective on the scholarly debate surrounding them, including what he argues are crucial errors in Stephen Jay Gould's famous book on the fossils, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History.
- The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Octavo. Original black cloth, titles to spine in silver. With the dust jacket. Illustrations throughout. A fine copy.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center | Science in Orbit
First edition and a beautiful copy of this book celebrating the Space Shuttle’s scientific mission and laboratory capabilities, copiously illustrated in full colour. Among the topics covered in this technically advanced volume are studying the human body in space; materials and chemical processes in microgravity; observing the Sun; plasma physics in space; atmospheric science and Earth observations; and astronomy and astrophysics.
...The Shuttle & Spacelab Experience: 1981-1986. Washington D. C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988.
Tall quarto. Original illustrated boards depicting the space shuttle, dark blue embossed endpapers. Colour illustrations throughout. Small area of residue where ownership ticket or small bookplate was removed from the front pastedown. Very light rubbing at the tips, pages faintly toned at the edges. Excellent condition.
Patterson, Flora W. & Vera K. Charles | Mushrooms and Other Common Fungi
First edition of this well-illustrated guide to mushroom identification for the amateur collector.
The first female mycologist to work at the United States Department of Agriculture, Flora Patterson (1847-1928) exhibited “the tenacity, audacity, and perspicacity of a true scientific visionary” (Reynolds, “Flora Patterson”, Women in Microbiology, p. 219). She initially studied fungi as a childhood hobby, then attended several universities as a non-traditional student, taking a plant pathology course at Iowa State and completing her education at Radcliffe College, from where she was able to work in the Harvard Grey Herbarium.
At the USDA Patterson “published on edible and poisonous mushrooms and on fungus diseases of economic importance, working and publishing with the mycologist Vera Charles” (Ogilvie, p. 990). Patterson directed the US National Fungus Collections for nearly thirty years, growing it from 19,000 to 115,000 specimens. She was in charge of identifying fungal diseases of agricultural importance, and made numerous important contributions in this area, including the identification of chestnut blight and pineapple rot. Her involvement in Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the US led to the passage of the Plant Quarantine Act of 1912.
Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office for the United States Department of Agriculture, 1915.
Octavo. Original cream wrappers printed in black. 38 plates from photographs. Wrappers faintly toned, mild dampstain affecting the lower corner of the wrappers and text, with some abraded areas where the corners of the leaves have stuck together, not generally affecting text. Very good condition.
Peckham, George W. & Elizabeth G. On the Instincts and Habits of the Solitary Wasps
First edition, first printing of both titles, the “Additional Observations” being a presentation copy inscribed, “Mr, Claus H. Shirum [?], compliments of the authors”.
Authors Elizabeth and George Peckham were entomologists and archnologists who together pioneered the study of jumping spiders; were early proponents of including behaviour in taxonomical analysis; and performed some of the first studies on sexual selection. Elizabeth was the first female science graduate of Vasser, one of Milwaukee’s first librarians, and a suffragist. George obtained a medical degree but chose to teach high school, and in 1880 the Peckhams introduced the first biological laboratory course in an American High school, also incorporating Darwinian concepts in their pedagogy.
Together the Peckhams described 63 genera and 366 species, and one genus, at least twenty species, and a scientific society are named in their honour. Following George’s death in 1914, Elizabeth continued their scientific work and was awarded a PhD by Cornell in 1914. On the Instincts and Habits of the Solitary Wasps is now considered a scientific classic, for both its style and scholarship.
[Bound together with] “Additional Observations on the Instincts and Habits of the Solitary Wasps” [in] Bulletin of the Wisconsin Natural History Society, vol. 1, no. 2, April 1900. Madison, WI: the state of Wisconsin, 1898.
Octavo. Contemporary library style binding of black half skiver, black cloth sides, spine gilt in compartments. 14 plates of which 2 are chromolithographs and the 12 are lithographs. Binding rubbed with wear at the corners, spine ends, and hinges, contents toned. A very good copy.
Schmid, Bastian | Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere: Die Zauneidechse. Lacerta agilis.
Uncommon, early-20th century anatomical relief of the European lizard species Lacerta agilis (the sand lizard). The publisher’s archive copy, in excellent condition in the original box.
This relief was one of a series produced for schools, Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates), designed by the German behavioural scientist and educational writer Bastian Schmid (1870-1944) for the major educational publisher J. F. Schreiber. The printed paper label on the back gives the names of the lizards’ body parts and also introduces the diagram, “In the lizard, the anatomical character of the reptiles is expressed in a clear manner. Therefore, a representative of this group, namely our well-known sand lizard, is presented as the fourth type in this series Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates...”.
[Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates: Sand Lizard. Lacerta agilis.]. Munich: J. F. Schreiber, Early 20th-century.
Painted anatomical relief display in wooden frame (240 x 302 mm). Printed paper label to the rear. Housed in the original box with the stamp of the publisher’s archive and two handwritten labels - one giving the name of the display and the other reading “F22”. Also with the original tissue-covered cotton insert to protect the relief. Some minor spots and scuffs to the frame. Slight damage to the paper backing of the frame not affecting the its integrity. Some wear to the box. Excellent condition.
Schmid, Bastian | Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere: Rana esculenta. Wasserfrosch
Uncommon, early-20th century anatomical relief of the European frog species Rana esculenta (the common European water frog, or green frog). The publisher’s archive copy, in excellent condition in the original box.
This relief was one of a series produced for schools, Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere (Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates), designed by the German behavioural scientist and educational writer Bastian Schmid (1870-1944) for the major educational publisher J. F. Schreiber. The printed paper label on the back gives the names of the frogs’ body parts and also introduces the diagram, “This relief is the second in the series Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates and, like the Fish, is intended to be useful both for theoretical instruction and for biological exercises in higher schools. To the left a female, on the right a male animal, both natural size with the brain and spinal cord enlarged. In the female we see the entire intestines, the respiratory system, the heart with its anterior chambers, the aortic arch...”
[Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates: Rana esculenta. Water Frog.]. Munich: J. F. Schreiber, Early 20th-century.
Painted anatomical relief display in wooden frame (240 x 302 mm). Printed paper label to the rear. Housed in the original box with the stamp of the publisher’s archive and two handwritten labels - one giving the name of the display and the other reading “F21”. Also with the original tissue-covered cotton insert to protect the relief. A few very minor scratches and spots to the frame. There is some wear to the box and the tissue covering for the cotton padding is torn. Excellent condition.
Vos, George H. | Birds and Their Nests and Eggs
A handsomely bound copy of a later impression, originally published in 1907. This lovely little book is "an attempt to describe by camera and pen the recent rambles of two friends, during the months of May and June, in search of birds and their nests for the purpose of photographing them in and near London". It includes a large number of photographs of British birds (usually stuffed specimens) as well as their nests, eggs, and habitats.
- Found in and Near Great Towns. Illustrated by reproduction of photographs of each bird, its nest and eggs, made by the author from Nature, and of incidental scenes. Second edition, revised. London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1910. Octavo (174 x 117 mm). Contemporary tree calf prize binding, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, red morocco label, gilt floral roll to boards, gilt crest of the Terra Nova School to the upper board, marbled endpapers and edges. Prize bookplate. Frontispiece and illustrations throughout from photographs. Very lightly rubbed at extremities, spine a little faded. Excellent condition.
Warren, John C. | Remarks on Some Fossil Impressions in the Sandstone Rocks of Connecticut River
- First edition and a very attractive copy. This book was the second American publication (and first American scientific publication) to be illustrated with a photograph, a salt print depicting the fossilised tracks of prehistoric birds. Author John Collins Warren (1778-1856) was a prominent Boston surgeon and member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. "On October 16, 1846, Warren performed the first operation using ether as an anesthesia (administered by dentist W.T.G. Morton), and he was the first American to operate on a strangulated hernia. He wrote an important book on his speciality, Surgical Observations on Tumours (1837)" (Massachusetts Historical Society finding aid). Warren also developed a large collection of anatomical specimens, both human and animal, and published works on mastodon fossils and an Egyptian mummy. The present paper is based on a talk he gave at the Boston Society of Natural History on the fossil slab pictured in the frontispiece. He writes that, "we are indebted to photography for enabling us to represent the remarkable slab from Greenfield, and its numerous objects, in a small space, yet with perfect accuracy."
- Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. Octavo. Original blue cloth elaborately blocked in blind, title to upper board gilt. Folding salt print frontispiece depicting fossil tracks. Lightly rubbed at extremities, a few faint spots and marks to cloth, head of spine bumped, two small dampstains to preliminaries not affecting frontispiece. Excellent condition.
Wood, J. G. | Insects at Home
An attractively bound and copiously illustrated work on British insects by the naturalist John George Wood (1827-1889), originally published in 1872.
Wood began his career in the Church of England, but from the early 1880s "was developing a career as a natural historian; his first book, The Illustrated Natural History, was published in 1851. Several more works had followed by 1856, when he began to give occasional lectures on natural history subjects. Wood's appeal as a populariser of natural history was spotted by the publisher George Routledge. Routledge asked him to contribute to a shilling series of handbooks, starting with Common Objects of the Seashore (1857), which enjoyed huge popularity among holiday-makers to the coast. Common Objects of the Country (1858) had an even greater success, and Routledge followed this with a three-volume Illustrated Natural History (1859) by Wood. Many future naturalists were said to have been inspired by reading these books at an early age" (ODNB)
"Wood wrote more than seventy books, some under the pseudonym George Forrest. The majority of them were on natural history, but he also published works on the history of the biblical period and English scenery... and edited titles as diverse as Gilbert White's Natural History of Selbourne and the Boy's Own Magazine. His own natural history titles, such as Our Garden Friends and Foes (1863) and Handy Natural History (1886), were not rigorously scientific but were influential in popularizing the subject. His works on microscopy such as Common Objects of the Microscope (1861) and Nature's Teaching (1877) are still in use by amateur microscopists who hold him in affection" (ODNB).
- ...Being a Popular Account of British Insects, their Structure, Habits, and Transformations. With Upwards of 700 Figures by E. A. Smith and J. B. Zwecker, Engraved by G. Pearson. New Edition. Large octavo (215 x 140 mm). Contemporary tan calf prize binding, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, black morocco label, double lines rules to boards and Hanley Castle Grammar School Crest to upper board gilt, marbled edges and endpapers, turn-overs ruled in blind. Contemporary presentation inscription to the front blank. Colour frontispiece and 20 engraved plates, engravings throughout the text. Boards a little rubbed and scuffed, small gouge from top edge of lower board, blank piece of paper pasted over an inscription on the verso of the front free endpaper, light spotting to contents. A very good copy.
[Seaweed] | An exceptional Victorian seaweed album
A sumptuous, mid-19th century seaweed album, unusually finely bound and containing eighty specimens.
Most seaweed albums we have handled have been simply bound in skiver or paper-covered blank books. This example, however, is in green morocco with elaborate gold tooling and attractive, gilt patterned endpapers. The specimens are among the most beautiful we have seen, delicate, artfully arranged, and retaining their colour and texture, and they represent an unusually varied selection of species. Each one is individually mounted on white card, and hand-labelled with its scientific name and the location where it was collected. Most were found in Cumbria, at Roa and Piel Islands off the Furness Peninsula, as well as the mainland beaches of Roose, Baycliff, Aldingham, Bardsea, Saltcoats, Rampside, Flimby, and Maryport. Also represented are nearby Ayrshire in southwest Scotland, as well as more exotic locales: the Isle of Mann, Gibralter, Tangier, and one location given only as “Mediterranean”.
Seaweed collecting was, together with other types of natural history collecting and scrapbooking, a popular occupation for young women during the Victorian era. Inspired in part by the Romantic Movement's reverence for nature, it was considered a wholesome way for women to engage with the outdoors, and it also functioned as a social accomplishment indicating one's suitability for marriage and family life.
Nature was at the centre of the Victorian domestic imagination, and "one reason for the appearance of various representations of the natural world in the parlour. was a continuing apprehension of the world as beautiful - or at least a continuing prestige attached to those who were sensible of that beauty" (Logan, The Victorian Parlour, p. 142). Nature was inextricably tied to religious and moral edification, with amateur collectors "drawn to the study of the natural world as a culturally approved form of recreation. seen as aesthetically pleasing, educational and morally beneficial, since [nature] lifted the mind to a new appreciation of God" (Logan, p. 144).
"Queen Victoria as a young girl made a seaweed album; later in the century, materials for such an album could be purchased at seaside shops like that of Mary Wyatt in Torquay, who specialized in natural souvenirs" (Logan, p. 124). "In the late 19th Century, the books Sea Mosses: A Collector's Guide and An Introduction to the Study of Marine Algae by A. B. Hervey outlined how to properly press and mount various types of algae. The tools needed are a pair of pliers, scissors, a stick with a needle in the end, at least two 'wash bowls,' botanist's 'drying paper,' or some kind of blotting paper, cotton cloth, and finally cards to mount the specimens on. Pliers and scissors are used to handle the specimens and cut away any extraneous, 'superfluous' branches, and the needle is used like a pencil so that the plant can be moved around with relative ease to show the finer details. The drying and pressing process consists of layering the mounting papers with various types of blotting cloth and additional paper topped with weights; in this case the weights suggested by Hervey are 50 lbs. worth of rocks found by the seashore. Most seaweed in this case will adhere to the mounting board via gelatinous materials emitted from the plant itself" (Harvard University, Mary A. Robinson online exhibition).
United Kingdom, mid-19th century.
Tall quarto (288 x 227 mm). Contemporary green morocco rebacked with the original spine laid down, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, elaborate gilt rules and rolls to boards, cornerpieces, gilt turn-ins and patterned endpapers, all edges gilt. 24 leaves of green paper with 80 specimens mounted on white paper inserts of various sizes, each labelled with scientific name and location in manuscript, tissue guards. Rebacked as noted above, small repairs to corners, binding rubbed and scuffed, occasional light spots and toning of contents, one specimen lacking. Very good condition.