antique prints, maps and watercolors

(Purple Gros-Beak) Plate 40. The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. London 1754. $1,250.00

click for detailed image Catesby40.JPG

T.40 "The Purple Gross-beak, Gros-Bec violet"

An original hand colored botanical plate from one of the most important natural history books ever produced which marked the beginning of American ornithology. The Englishman Mark Catesby (1682-1749) came to the American colonies first in 1712 to visit his sister, the wife of the secretary to the Governor of Virginia. Catesby's "visit" lasted seven years, during which time his sister provided him with many social and scientific contacts and Catesby indulged his passion for collecting natural history specimens. Many of Catesby's specimens were sent to England to fellow scientists and upon returning in 1719, he had become something of a celebrity. In 1722 Catesby returned to America to pursue a pet project, a two volume natural history text he titled, The Natural History of Carolina Florida and the Bahama Islands, which he published in London between 1731 and 1754. Catesby's depiction of North American birds was more natural than any earlier attempt. He drew from living specimens and included foliage backgrounds. Catesby also utilized folio sized plates which enabled him to depict many birds life-size. The work contained 220 plates engraved and painted by the self taught Catesby. This natural history was the first and only attempt to record the natural history of the American colonies during colonial times. It was so influential, that a second edition was published in 1754 with the hand coloring of the plates done by the very able  George Edwards (whose own Natural History of Birds was a renown work on European birds). A third edition was published in 1771 after Catesby's death. This impression we offer for sale was included in the second edition, hand colored by George Edwards.

Copper plate engraving with full original hand color.
Full untrimmed sheet measuring 20 1/4 x 14 inches sheet.
Clean and sharp impression, excellent original condition.