Date of Printing: 1686 • Medium: Copperplate Engraving (hand colored) • Subject Category: Natural History - Fishes • Signed: Unsigned • Period Created: Baroque (1600 - 1699) • Plate Size HxWxD cm: 20 x 34 • Leaf Paper Size HxW cm: 24 x 37.8 • Style: FOLIO Original Vintage • Print on Verso: Blank on verso • Condition: Very Good • Edition Type: 1st Edition - Limited • Paper Type: Laid Paper • Framed: Print only
WILLUGHBY, Francis (1635-1672) - RAY, John (1627-1705). History of Fishes, Published by Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1686
Antique Folio Copper Plate Published Oxford, for "De Historia Piscium libri quato..." by Francis Willughby (Willoughby) and John Ray. Good paper, reverse side blank. Recent professional hand colour by a fine British Colourist. Scarce.
Very minor background smearing.
The first major British work on Ichthyology.
Origin information of book: Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1686. Folio (14 2/8 x 9 4/8 inches). Publisher's engraved vignette on title-page. Additional engraved title-page by Paul van Somer, 187 fine engraved plates by Richard Hunt, including 14 with letterpress captions laid-down as issued, engraved vignette head-pieces and initials (some minor worming, not affecting the images). Contemporary speckled calf, the spine in 7 compartments with 6 raised bands, morocco lettering-piece in one, the others decorated with small gilt tools (joints cracked, extremities a bit scuffed). Provenance: early annotations to captions; 19th-century printed paper lot number (355) at the foot of the spine. Second edition, a re-issue of the sheets of the 1686 first edition with the 'Index Piscium' added at the end, and printed identification slips pasted onto some of the plates. This copy retains the original 1686 title-page, more usually replaced by one dated 1743.
Willughby met John Ray, his lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1653, they became lifelong friends collaborators in a number of natural history projects, including a plan "to reduce the several Tribes of Things to a Method; and to give accurate Descriptions of the several Species, from a strict View of them. And forasmuch as Mr. Willughby's Genius lay chiefly to animals, therefore he undertook the Birds, Beasts, Fishes, and Insects, as Mr. Ray did the Vegetables". (Derham, Remains, 48). Sadly Willughby died in 1672, and Ray undertook to publish what he could of Willughby's incomplete history of animals. The "Ornithology" was published first in 1676, followed by this the "Historia Piscium" in 1786. Financed by the Royal Society, with assistance from John Fell, bishop of Oxford , the Society's celebrated President, Samuel Pepys, underwrote 79 of the engraved plates, and other Society members sponsored the remaining plates. Despite its importance and sumptuous production, the work was slow to sell. Royal Society members therefore received part of their salaries in copies of the book, and the Society authorised this re-issue in 1740 (published in 1743). The "History of Insects" was the last of Willughby's works to be published, although Ray did not live to see this project through. It was published in 1710 as "Historia insectorum" on behalf of the Royal Society, edited by William Derham. Keynes, Ray 46-47; Nissen ZBI 4417 (calling for 188 plates); Wing W-2879. Bookseller Inventory # 72nhr78