Artefact of the month - October 2007
Common bat, Vespertilio murinus, plate 50 in The natural history of British quadrupeds ... / by E. Donovan
Common bat, Vespertilio murinus, plate 50 in The natural history of British quadrupeds; consisting of coloured figures accompanied with scientific and general descriptions, of all the species that are known to inhabit the British Isles, including as well as those found in a wild as in the domesticated state; and also such as are clearly authenticated to have been originally indigenous, but are now extirpated, or become extremely rare; the whole arranged in systematic order, after the manner of Linneaus by E. Donovan, London : published by the author, 1815-20 - in three volumes.
Bats have for many years bats have been connected with humans and much myth and folklore has developed about them. They are generally regarded as secretive animals, difficult to observe and associated with the night and hence linked to ghosts, witches and demons. An image of a bat seems to be an appropriate 'Artefact' for October, the month of Halloween...
Edward Donovan (1768-1837) describes Vespertilio murinus as the 'most common of the bat tribe found in England. Its length is about two inches and a half, the extent, when the wings are expanded, nine inches, and the general colour of the fur dusky mouse colour'.
Donovan was a prolific author and illustrator publishing several multi-volume illustrated works about British animals, including volumes on fish, mollusks, birds, insects. He etched and engraved his own plates for his books.