London: William Darton, n.d. but, 1827.
Square duodecimo, printed title-page, 48 hand-coloured plates with letterpress description verso, final 2 pp. advertisements, extant captions dated 26 August 1826, early manuscript presentation dated 1827; in publisher's binding of red calf, lettered in gilt to front board.
A particularly rare and uncommonly attractive children's work of natural history, including fine hand-coloured plates of the kangaroo and the platypus, bound in the fine original red publisher's binding.
A particularly rare and uncommonly attractive children's work of natural history, including fine hand-coloured plates of the kangaroo and the platypus, bound in the fine original red publisher's binding.Mary Belson Elliott (1794?-1870) was a prolific writer for children in the first half of the nineteenth century, issuing any number of books with the specialist publisher Darton. Elliott was known for her pious tone: the recent bibliography of her works by Marjorie Moon carries the title "blending sound Christian principles with cheerful cultivation."The book includes an interesting mix of familiar domestic animals and more exotic species. The engraving of the kangaroo is based on the famous Stubbs image, about which Elliott notes, 'One of the most curious creatures we can behold… first known to us through the great Captain Cook, when he was on the coast of New Holland, fifty-seven years ago.'The note for the second Australian animal noted here, the platypus, is worth quoting in some length: 'This strange-looking animal is, as you read under the print, a creature of New Holland, and really there is nothing in its form to tempt us to wish it were a native of our own coasts. The platypus was not known to us until of late years…'. One of the most quaint aspects of the description of the platypus is the cautionary tone adopted by Elliott, who is evidently concerned that young readers will be tempted to question divine sensibility on being confronted with such an unusual animal, exhorting the little ones to remember that 'His works are without fault! Our blindness may fancy a blemish, but in reality nature is complete.'Not recorded in any Australian collection, this is a very scarce work. Some very slight variations in collation are known in the handful of recorded copies of this work. All of the pages are unnumbered, as always, and this copy has 100 pages in total, comprising title-page (verso blank), 96 pages of text, and two pages of advertisements. Some other copies are known with two extra half-titles, a contents page, and a slightly different title-page (adding 'Two shillings and six pence'): where noticed, these copies are recorded as 104 pages in total. It is likely, therefore, that the current copy, priced more expensively at 4 shillings "bound in red", constitutes the rarer fine issue.
Price (AUD): $6,500.00 other currencies Ref: #3706048