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The Natural History of British Fishes

The Natural History of British Fishes

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The Natural History of British Fishes: Including Scientific and General Descriptions of the Most Interesting Specimens

by Edward Donovan

  • Used
  • Very Good
  • Hardcover
  • first
Very Good/None
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
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About This Item

Very good copy of the first edition of "one of the finest works on fishes."

Complete with 120 beautiful copperplate engravings, drawn, engraved and coloured by the author. Donovan made his drawings from recently caught fish, most while they were still living. The text often describes the location the fish was caught: the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, was "an elegant little specimen caught near the coast of Brighton."

Depicts several endangered species such as the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, and Atlantic halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, and the critically endangered European sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, and angelshark, Squatina squatina.

"The paint is laid on so thickly that is frequently impossible to see the engraved lines underneath. The already rich colour is heightened with burnished highlights, albumen overglaze and metallic paint."

Complete five volumes bound in two (1,2 and 3,4,5),

Edward Donovan (1768-1837) was an Anglo-Irish naturalist and the author and illustrator of a number of important natural history books on British flowers, birds, shells, insects and animals. A Fellow of the Linnaean Society and the Wernerian Natural History Society, he wrote and illustrated The Natural History of British Insects 1792~, The Natural History of British Birds 1794~, An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of China 1798, The Natural History of British Shells 1799~, An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of India 1800~, The Natural History of British Fishes 1802~, An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland 1805, etc. He was also a voracious collector, once paying 83 guineas for a rare specimen of a cream-coloured courser, Cursorius cursor, and from 1807 to 1817, he opened his extensive collection to the public as the "London Museum and Institue of Natural History." He died penniless in 1837, bankrupted by his expensive publications and collecting habits, and an acrimonious lawsuit against his thieving publishers, the Rivingtons.

Contemporary half leather, rebacked keeping the original spines with green title labels and gilt, original marble boards scuffed and stained but holding, original marble endpapers with hinges taped. Interior mostly clean, all plates with rich and vibrant hand colour, some slight age-toning to the paper.

A lovely complete set of the classic of British ichthyology.


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Florilegius JP (JP)
Bookseller's Inventory #
The Natural History of British Fishes
Edward Donovan
Edward Donovan
Half leather and marble boards
Book Condition
Used - Very Good
Jacket Condition
Quantity Available
F. and C. Rivington
Place of Publication
Date Published
Octavo, 24 x 15cm
0.00 lbs
Edward Donovan, British Fishes, handcoloured, copperplate engraving, ichthyology, fishes, zoology,
Bookseller catalogs
Natural History;
May be a multi-volume set and require additional postage.

Terms of Sale


30 day return guarantee, with full refund including original shipping costs for up to 30 days after delivery if an item arrives misdescribed or damaged.

About the Seller


Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2019
Tokyo, Tokyo

About Florilegius

Tokyo-based bookseller specializing in European illustrated books from the 18th to 19th century, mainly botanical, zoological, costume and travel. Also Japanese ukiyo-e and woodblock botanicals, flower arrangement, etc.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in...
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"...
having had the material covering the spine replaced. ...

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