London: Benjamin and John White, Horace's Head, Fleet Street and John Sewell, Cornhill, 1796.
Folio, two works bound together, with a total of 67 hand-coloured engraved plates (see note), several with manuscript captions and small annotations, bookplates; a magnificent tall copy in contemporary full calf, original gilt-decorated spine laid down, red morocco label.
By one of Sir Joseph Banks' outstanding natural history artists
A rare and extremely attractive work of natural history with magnificent ornithological, zoological and botanical plates, several depicting specimens collected on Cook's voyages for the first time. Unlike many contemporary works which included illustrations of the natural history of the Pacific, Miller's book is both folio-format and hand-coloured, to dazzling effect. This fine copy offered here is the early issue without later watermarks unlike others recorded.
A rare and extremely attractive work of natural history with magnificent ornithological, zoological and botanical plates, several depicting specimens collected on Cook's voyages for the first time. Unlike many contemporary works which included illustrations of the natural history of the Pacific, Miller's book is both folio-format and hand-coloured, to dazzling effect. This fine copy offered here is the early issue without later watermarks unlike others recorded.All of the plates are by the artist John Frederick Miller (1759-1796), who cut his teeth engraving the plates for the official account of the Endeavour voyage (1773). Miller had planned to sail on Cook's second voyage with his patron, Sir Joseph Banks, but when Banks withdrew so did he, travelling instead as part of the Banks entourage to Iceland in 1772. Starting in 1776, Miller began to publish these beautiful plates depicting the very latest and most striking discoveries: gulls and cassowaries, jerboas and falcons, as well as Cook specimens such as the two beautiful Tahitian Rails and the penguins from different regions of the southern oceans. He ultimately published 60 plates, creating a publication that is so rare that even its actual title is not firmly recorded; it is listed as either Icones Animalium et Plantarum or Various Subjects of Natural History. The project was all but abandoned until, in the 1790s, the zoologist George Shaw recognised its importance, writing a substantial accompanying text and helping publish the whole as the Cimelia Physica ("treasures of the physical world"): while sometimes called for convenience's sake the "second edition", this is the first appearance of the complete book and the only edition ever offered for sale. At the time Shaw, a lecturer at the Leverian Museum, had recently published the first ever zoology of Australian animals, which is why the text here includes occasional printed comparisons with some of the animals of New Holland.Beautifully bound, this volume includes a complete copy of the Cimelia Physica (essentially 60 plates & 106 pp. text), many of them with original manuscript captions, perhaps signifying early issue. The present copy has added significance because the original owner has extra-illustrated it with a further seven exotic botanical plates and a leaf of text, including two depicting New Zealand specimens which also date from Cook's voyages. These plates were done by Miller's father Johann Sebastian Müller as a rare supplement to his Illustratio Systematis Sexualis Linnaei, published from 1775-1777, although these "Icones Novæ" plates are dated 1780 (see Soulsby, for a description of a similar copy in the British Museum).
Provenance: "Wrest Park" bookplate of Thomas Philip Earl de Grey (1781-1859); ink stamp of twentieth-century collector Pierpaolo Vaccarino.
Nissen IVB, 638; Bird Books, p. 94; Sherborn & Iredale, 'J.F. Miller's Icones,' Ibis (1921); Soulsby, A Catalogue of the Works of Linnæus, no. 1224b; Stafleu & Cowan, 6033; Wood, p. 465; Zimmer, p. 585.
Price (AUD): $62,000.00 other currencies Ref: #4504928