The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands: Containing the Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects, and Plants; Particularly the Forest-Trees, Shrubs, and other Plants, not hitherto Described. CATESBY, Mark (1683-1749)

$ 475,000.00

Printed for Charles Marsh, Thomas Wilcox, and Benjamin Stichall, 1754., 1754. 2 volumes. Folio (20 x 13 6/8 inches). Title-pages printed in red and black in English and French, text in parallel columns of English and French, dedication and index leaves in both volumes, 220 hand-colored etched plates after and by Catesby, folding hand-colored engraved map in volume 2, "An Account of Carolina and the Bahama Islands" bound following plates of volume 2, etched headpiece by Catesby, historiated woodcut initials (title-page of volume one, preliminaries, and plates 1-3 with early repairs to versos, plates 4-8, and 18-25 with small punctures affecting the images, some minor creasing, spotting and browning, one or two marginal tears to text leaves). Contemporary French scarlet morocco, each cover finely decorated with borders of gilt and blind garland roll-tools, an inner border of gilt fillets decorated at the corners with small tools of birds chasing leaves, and snakes chasing birds, the spines gilt decorated in 8 compartments, with 7 raised bands, lettered in the second and fifth; all edges gilt and elaborately gauffered (expertly rebacked, preserving the original spines). Provenance: Bookplates of the Library Company of Baltimore, and the Maryland Historical Society on the front paste-down of each volume. "The most famous color-plate book of American plant and animal life & [and] a fundamental and original work for the study of American species" (Hunt). Second edition, revised by the ornithologist and artist George Edwards (1694-1773), text and plates on paper with various watermarks, first 20 text leaves of volume 2 with page numerals corrected by hand, as often; "DU" on title-page corrected by hand. Catesby's preface details his two journeys to the New World and the development of his Natural History, including his decision to etch his plates himself in order to ensure both accuracy and economy. "Instead of perpetuating the previous stiff, profile manner of presentation, Catesby devised the method of mingling plants and animals in logical groupings, most often with accuracy and with proportional scale between figure and plant. He did his utmost to convey something of the particular habits or movements of each species. Simple though they are, he infused his compositions with a sense of movement and vitality not usual prior to his work" (Norelli). Catesby became a renowned naturalist, botanist, and ornithologist, partly as a result of the mentorship of the celebrated English naturalist John Ray. In 1712 "he went to Virginia to learn something of its natural history. He lived for a time with his older sister Elizabeth and her husband William Cocke, a physician who was secretary to the colony and later a member of the governor's council. Here he met a number of prominent Virginians, including William Byrd II, who shared with Catesby his knowledge of the colony's fauna and flora. Catesby spent much time collecting plant specimens and seeds, most of which were sent to collectors in England, principally Sir Hans Sloane, then head of the Royal Society. "In 1714 Catesby made his first trip to the Appalachians, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, where he continued to study native plants and animals. From 1716 to 1718 he appears to have been heavily involved in the management of his brother-in-law's personal affairs while the latter was in London on business for the colony. Catesby himself returned to England in 1719. "In 1720 a group of prominent plant collectors in England, notably Sloane, William Sherard, Samuel Dale, Charles Dubois, and several others, decided to underwrite a second trip by Catesby to the Carolinas and the West Indies. His objective was to collect specimens and information about the natural history of the southeastern American colonies and the Bahamas. Discussions about this project had been ongoing for at least ten years, and Catesby was not the group's first choice for this assignment, but he accepted and departed for the colonies in January 1722. Much of his time was spent as a middleman between plant. Bookseller Inventory # 002350