MARTINI, F.H. & CHEMNITZ, J.H.

Neues systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet.

Eur 35,000 / USD 42,000
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Nürnberg, G.N. Raspe, 1769-1795. 11 volumes (including the Index volume by Schröter). 4to (395 x 235mm). With 1 hand-coloured engraved frontispiece, 2 portraits and 408 fine hand-coloured engraved plates, numerous engravings in the text of which some handcoloured. Contemporary calf, spines with later rebacking and gilt lettered labels, sides with gilt borders.

portraying marine shells from all over the world including shells from Cook's voyage into the Pacific

The most beautifully produced German iconography on shells, portraying marine shells from all over the world including shells from Cook's voyage into the Pacific.
The work describes and portrays many shells from New Zealand, some from Australia and some from Tahiti, mostly collected during Cook's voyages. In the preface of the 5th volume Chemnitz states: "... viele dem Kenner wichtiger Conchyliologische Nachrichten aufgetrieben, auf jeder Kupferplatte einige ganz neue, äusserst seltene, auch vorzügliche Südländische, bey den Cookischen Seereisen, zuerst entdeckte Gattungen geliefert".
Below we give the volumes and pages where these shells are described (as well as portrayed). Vol. IV: p. 220; Vol. V: pp. 26, 27, 28, 36, 42, 47, 97, 100, 163, 166, 187, 207, 213, 215, 229, 230, 272, 285, 296, 321; Vol. VI: p. 30; Vol. VII: p. 61; Vol. VIII: pp. 167, 195; Vol. IX, 1: p. 108; Vol. IX, 2: pp. 42, 44, 49; Vol. X: pp. 183, 187, 188, 202; 210, 238; 258, 281; 287, 288, 289, 291, 295, 296, 311, 313, 314, 315, 317, 321, 355; Vol. XI: pp. 8, 17, 21, 34, 59, 134, 165, 179, 180, 247, 281.
For example page 36 of volume V describes 'Der Cookskräusel von Cooks Meeresenge bey Neu-Seeland'; page 166 describes 'Das Bretspiel... diese Schnecken sind nach meinem Verzeichniss von Diemensland', page 207 describes 'Die rötliche geperlte Neuseeländische Mondschnecke'; Volume IX, 1 p. 108 describes 'Die linke Otaheitische Flussschnecke... die mir von den Cookischen Seereisen zugefallen'; Vol. X p. 188 describes 'Der Wasserfall... auch diese Gattung haben wir den Cookischen Seereisen zu verdanken. Sie ist gleichfalls bey Neuseeland, bey diesem Wohnorte der herrlichen Conchylien gefunden worden', page 201 describes ?'Der Otaheitische Thurm... die erst bey den letzten Cookischen Reisen um die Welt, bey Otaheite entdecket worden', page 314 describes 'Das Venusohr... das kleine gestreifte Ohr von Neu-Seeland', page 355 describes 'Die Südseeische Venus, Venus Australis... diese vortrefliche Venusmuschel hat der berühmte Banks dem Herrn Spengler verehret'. Vol. XI page 34 describes 'Aurora. Die Pomeranze. Cyoraea Aurora Solandri? Sie wohnet in der Südsee bey Neuseeland'; page 59 'Der Südseeische Kegel. Conus Australis? Es wohnet dieser Kegel in der Südsee, vornehmlich bey Südwallis'; page 165' Die Südseeische Dicklippe. Trochus Labeo Australis? Bey Neuseeland sollen Dicklippen die gemeinsten Schnecken sein'.
Many of the shells come from the cabinet of Lorenz Spengel of Copenhagen (ex Museo Spengleriano). His cabinet contained many Cook related items and Spengel was a regular customer of Humprey, 'who wrote to Spengler on 15 October, 1775, apologizing for the delay in sending him shells and explaining that he needed to be on hand to take care of transactions on the return of the 'Resolution" (Andrews, The Southern Ark p. 48).

"Friederich Wilhelm Martini, a Hamburg physician, conceived the idea of publishing the first large-scale encyclopaedia of shells illustrated with hand-coloured plates. His ambition was to describe and portray every kind of shell known, an ambition virtually impossible to fulfil, as others have discovered since. No sooner was the third volume of the 'Neues Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet' in print that its author died, in 1778. Publication was continued by Johann Hieronymus Chemnitz, a Danish clergyman who, between 1779 and 1795, added a further eight volumes" (Dance, Shells p. 24).

The portrayed shells come from famous 'wunderkammer' collections of Kings and nobility, as well as wealthy merchants, such as the museum of Lorenz Spengler, cabinet maker of the King of Denmark; the museum of the King of Denmark, King Frederic V, an avid shell collector; the museum of Count A.G. Molke, who had one of the finest shell collections in Europe, many from the famous Seba collection; the museum of J.F. Bolten, who had worked out a new system of conchology; the museum of J.S. Schröter; the museum of Madame de Blandeville; the museum of Abraham Gevers, burgomaster of Rotterdam, who had one of the finest collections in the Netherlands; the museum of Empress of Austria, Maria Thesesia, who had a large shell collection in Vienna, which was decribed in a sumptuous folio by Baron Ignatius von Born; as well as the very extensive collections of Martini, in the first 3 volumes, and of Chemnitz in the other volumes.
10 volumes were planned and the title of volume 10 reads 'zehnter and letzter Band'. A separate index was published by Samuel Schöter a 'Vollständiges alphabetisches Namen-Register über alle zehn Bände'. In 1795 a supplementary volume was published, which is lacking in most sets and present here. Very few sets have this volume. A 12th volume was published 34 years after publication of volume 11. It was published by G.H. Schubert & J.A. Wagner in 1829 and is one of the great rarities in conchological literature.

The excellent plates are by A.F. Happe, Krüger, J.S. Leitner, Nüssbiegel, Scheidl, F. Ant, J.P. Degen and others, and were engraved by V. Bischoff, J.C. Bock, C.B. Glassbach, L.S. Leutner, J. Nussbiegel and V. Vogel. Volume V lacks 5 text leaves, these were never bound in. Added to the set is the later published index by L. Pfeiffer 'Kritisches Register zu Martini und Chemnitz's Systematisches Konchylien Kabinet' Kassel 1840. As usual with this work some occasional foxing. Title-pages with former owner's stamp.

Nissen ZBI, 2722; B.M. (Nat. Hist.) III, 1252.