London: Printed for the Author and for F. and C. Rivington, 1799. Item #03434
One Hundred and Thirteen Fine Hand Colored Plates of British Shells
DONOVAN, Edward. The Natural History of British Shells, including figures and descriptions of all the species hitherto discovered in Great Britain, systematically arranged in the Linneaen Manner, with scientific and general observations on each. London: Printed for the author and for F. and C. Rivington, 1799-1802.
Volumes 1-3 and part of volume 4 only (of five).
Octavo (9 1/8 x 5 5/8 inches; 231 x 144 mm.). Title-pages, text and indexes to the first three volumes. Title-page and text up to plate 116 only in volume four. 113 (of 144) engraved plates only, all colored by hand in fine bright colors.
Contemporary quarter olive green calf over marbled boards, smooth spines decoratively tooled in gilt, red morocco labels lettered in gilt, marbled end-papers. Spines faded, headcaps a little worn. A very good collection of 113 hand-colored plates from this important work on British shells.
The work was originally issued in sixty parts, each with three plates, having descriptive text to each plate.
Edward Donovan (1768-1837) was the founder of the London Museum and Institute of Natural History, which housed his large natural history collection. Born in Cork, Ireland, Donovan was an avid collector of natural history specimens purchased mainly at auctions of specimens from voyages of exploration. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Wernerian Natural History Society which gave him access to the best collections and libraries in London. It was quite common for private collectors to open small public museums, and in 1807 he founded the London Museum and Institute of Natural History. This exhibited several hundred cases of world birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, molluscs, insects, corals and other invertebrates and botanical specimens and other exotica alongside his British collections. Donovan was, at first, the very successful author of a number of natural history titles, including Natural History of British Birds (1792-97), Natural History of British Insects (1792-1813), Natural History of British Fishes (1802-08), Natural History of British Shells (1799-1804). He also wrote articles on Conchology, Entomology etc., made drawings and arranged the natural history plates in Rees's Cyclopædia and undertook commissions for private albums of his botanical artwork.
Nissen ZBI, 1147.