Artefact of the month - August/September
|The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands - by Mark Catesby, 1731-43|
This beautiful and extraordinary work was considered to be one of the most expensive natural history publications of the eighteenth century. It was published by subscription in sections each consisting of 20 plates plus descriptions which formed two volumes when complete.
This was a landmark in the study of the flora and fauna of North America and was the most comprehensive, illustrated and attractive natural history book of its time. The importance of Catesby’s study as a guide to American species caused it to be reprinted several times. The illustrations have a true-to-life quality to them rather decorative which was often the case in other books of the same period.
Volume two of this work has recently been returned to the Library after conservation made possible by the combination of project work and the Library’s Visiting Scholar scheme. During investigation carried out as part of the project it was discovered that this volume formed part of the five sets to which Sir Hans Slone is recorded as subscribing.
The repaired volume is once again available for people to see and use in the Library thanks to the hard work, patience, and perseverance of the conservator.