British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations. H. N. HUMPHREYS, J O. WESTWOOD.
British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations.
British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations.
British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations.
British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations.

British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies…
British Moths and their transformations [with] British Butterflies and their transformations.

London: Wm. S. Orr & Co and William Smith, 1841-1849.

Three volumes, quarto, profusely illustrated with full-page plates exquisitely hand-coloured; uniformly bound in half morocco richly gilt, all edges gilt, with the gilt arms of the Barons Sherborne.

A paen to the beauty of butterflies and the under-appreciated moth

A remarkable collaboration and an exquisite work of Victorian natural history.

A remarkable collaboration and an exquisite work of Victorian natural history.

As one of the pre-eminent entomologists of the Victorian period, John Obadiah Westwood (1805-1893) served as collaborator, editor, and consultant on many entomological publications. He was a prodigious author and researcher, publishing some four hundred scientific papers and some twenty books, as well as making numerous contributions to works by other authors. He was one of the founding members in 1833 of the Entomological Society, of which he became honorary life president in 1883, and a fellow of the Linnaean Society. It was for his study of Australian species that Anthony Musgrave, author of the Bibliography of Australian Entomology 1775-1930, named the period 1831-1861 "The Westwoodian Period", in recognition of his great service, during these years, to Australian entomology (Musgrave, p. 345).

Henry Noel Humphreys (1810-1879) was an accomplished illustrator and scholar in numerous subjects. In addition to his entomological texts, Humphreys wrote works on ancient Greek and Roman coins, archaeology, and the art of writing and printing enriching even these simplest texts with exquisite chromolithographs printed by Owen Jones. He was inspired to embark on this ambitious planned survey of British insects following a trip to Italy. In the Preface he likened the person in the fields, unacquainted with natural history, to one placed in a library and unable to read. "He cannot read in the beautiful book of nature when in the summer it opens its brightest leaves".

A contemporary review in The Lancet noted: The plates, exquisitely drawn by Mr. Humphreys, represent the insect in its three great stages—as the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly or moth —all hanging side by side on the plants which furnish their ordinary food. The transformation thus seems to take place under the eye; and the metamorphoses are associated in the mind, without any effort." In response to Humphreys' claim that "Entomology is a branch of knowledge more easily acquired than many imagine. The individual beauty of the insects in every stage, the ease with which they are preserved, and the comparative facility with which a complete collection of British species may be formed, particularly of butterflies, of which we number scarcely more than eighty distinct species, render it a task of easy attainment" the same reviewer wryly noted "Mr. Humphreys throws out a suggestion, which has, perhaps, a touch of the butterfly Utopia in it, but which is ingenious, and deserves trial."

Provenance: Each volume with the gilt arms of the Barons Sherborne, (with links to Australia through the Duttons of Anlaby, South Australia); and the bookplate of Princess Despina (Mary) Karadja (1868-1943), poet, writer on spiritualism, founder of the White Cross Union and wife of the envoy to the Ottoman empire Jean-Constantin Karadja, a distinguished diplomat and noted book collector.

Hagen, II, 273; Musgrave, p.347-8; Nissen ZBI, 4376.

Price (AUD): $5,500.00  other currencies Ref: #4505034