London: Printed by Bye and Law for the author and for F. and C. Rivington, 1793-1802. Item #03439
One of the Most Attractive Publications on British Entomology
Three Hundred and Sixty Engraved Plates - Nearly all Colored by Hand
DONOVAN, Edward. The Natural History of British Insects; Explaining them in their several states, with the periods of their transformations, their food, oeconomy, &c. Together with the history of such minute insects as require investigation by the microscope. The whole illustrated by coloured figures, designed and executed from living specimens. In ten volumes. London: Printed by Bye and Law for the author and for F. and C. Rivington, -1793-1801.
Ten octavo volumes bound in five (9 1/16 x 5 3/8 inches; 230 x 137 mm.). Volumes 1-10 (of 16) of this beautiful and rare work, first issued in ten volumes. Second edition (1802) of volume 1, first editions (1793-1801) of volumes two through ten. Three hundred and sixty engraved plates, nearly all colored by hand.
Early-to-mid nineteenth century three-quarter plum calf over marbled boards, ruled in blind. Spines with five raised bands, decoratively tooled with insects and lettered in gilt in compartments. Front joint of volume one slightly cracked, spines a little faded. an excellent set of this scarce work.
The work was first intended to comprise only ten volumes, which are present here. At a later date it was decided to publish another six volumes, which are more difficult to find. Together with the work of Curtis, this is the most attractive publication on British entomology. The plates are exquisitely hand-colored and each depicts one single species, of which some are described for the first time. The few plain plates, as in all copies, mostly show anatomical detail.
"Donovan was a talented and faithful illustrator, and his figures are noteworthy for their vivid - if sometimes a little too vivid - colours. His 'Natural History' does not treat insects systematically, however. His beetles, flies, moths and bugs follow one another in no particular order. In the course of it Donovan described a number of new species which often still bear the name he bestowed on them. The work includes all sixty-two British butterflies then known." (Salmon, The Aurelian Legacy p. 130).
The work is often found in mixed issues; in this set the first volume is in the second issue with the title-page dated 1802.
Vol I: 1802, [xvi], -80, [6, index], [1, errata, verso blank] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol II: 1793, 96, [6, index], [1, errata, verso blank] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol III: 1794, Title page, verso blank, 98, [6, index], [1, errata, verso blank] pp.; 36 plates. .
Vol IV: 1795, 96, [6, index] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol V: 1796, 110, [6, index], [1, errata, verso blank] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol VI: 1797, 86, [6, index], [1, errata, verso blank] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol VII: 1798, 96, [8, index] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol VIII: 1799, 88, [6, index] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol IX: 1800, 78, [4, index] pp.; 36 plates.
Vol X: 1801, 95, [1, blank], [7, index], [1, blank] pp.; 36 plates.
Horn-Schenkling, 4949; Nissen ZBI, 1142.