The Natural History of British Insects; explaining them in their several states, with the periods of their transformations ... together with the history of such minute insects as require investigation by the microscope.
London, printed for the author, 1792-1813. 16 volumes, bound in 8. Royal-8vo (235 x 145mm). With 576 engraved plates of which 569 beautifully handcoloured. Contemporary red half morocco, spines with gilt insect ornaments, lines and lettering.
A fine copy of the first edition. The work was first intended to comprise only 10 volumes; these are the ones which are more commonly found. At a later date it was decided to publish another 6 volumes, which are much rarer to find. Together with the work of Curtis, the most attractive publication on British Entomology. The plates are exquisitely handcoloured 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 text leaf to plate 191 has not been bound in. Provenance: Armorial bookplate of (the Earl of) Northampton. Nissen ZBI, 1142.
Item nr. 9583
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