Illustrations of natural history. Wherein are exhibited upwards of two hundred and forty figures of exotic insects, according to their different genera; very few of which have hitherto been figured by any author, being engraved and coloured from nature, with the greatest accuracy, and under the author's own inspection ... With a particular description of each insect: interspersed with remarks and reflections on the nature and properties of many of them. To which is added, a translation into French.
London, printed for the author, 1770-1782. 3 volumes. Large-4to (303 x 230mm). With 1 plain engraved key-plate and 150 handcoloured engraved plates. Later half calf, spines in 5 compartments with gilt lines and lettering.
An uncut and large copy of the very rare first edition of one of the most attractive English entomological works on exotic insects. Dru Drury (1725-1803) was the son of a silversmith. "By virtue of his marriage and inheritance of the family business he was a reasonably wealthy man who could afford to support his most serious hobby entomology. Drury's collection had great fame during his life time. He spent much time and money persuading others to collect specimens for him from foreign countries. He had a wide correspondence with entomologists around the world. Linnaeus (1707-1778) and Willliam Kirby (1759-1850) both named species after him" (Harvey, Gilbert & Martin, A catalogue of manuscripts in the Entomological library... 119). The majority of the fine plates were drawn and engraved by Moses Harris. "Although originally conceived as a publication to illustrate all the specimens that came in, Drury soon changed his mind and eventually decided to illustrate only those specimens which had not previously been drawn. Years later, the eminent British entomologist W.F. Kirby described the work as an 'Opus entomologicus splendissimus'!" (Gilbert, Butterfly Collectors and Painters, p.140). After his death his enormous collection of about 11.000 species was sold at a London auction for 614 Pound; it was Donovan who saw his unique chance and bought most of the British specimens. The text is in English and French. A fine copy. PNissen ZBI, 1160; Horn & Schenkling 5267 'Selten'.
Item nr. 9267
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