A catalogue of the animals of North America. Containing, an enumeration of the known quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, crustaceous and testaceous animals; many of which are new, and never described before. To which are added, short directions for collecting, preserving, and transporting, all kinds of natural history curiosities. Johann Reinhold FORSTER.
A catalogue of the animals of North America. Containing, an enumeration of the known quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, crustaceous and testaceous animals; many of which are new, and never described before. To which are added, short directions for collecting, preserving, and transporting, all kinds of natural history curiosities.
A catalogue of the animals of North America. Containing, an enumeration of the known quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, crustaceous and testaceous animals; many of which are new, and never described before. To which are added, short directions for collecting, preserving, and transporting, all kinds of natural history curiosities.

A Catalogue of the Animals of North America.
A catalogue of the animals of North America. Containing, an enumeration of the known quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, crustaceous and testaceous animals; many of which are new, and never described before. To which are added, short directions for collecting, preserving, and transporting, all kinds of natural history curiosities.

London: B. White, 1771.

Octavo, with an engraved frontispiece; a delightful copy in its original binding of unlettered speckled sheep.

Forster's how-to on collecting: a primer for Cook's second voyage

First edition, and a rare early work by the German-born scientist most famous for sailing on Cook's second voyage. Forster was a difficult man but a serious researcher, and this work represents his attempt to systematise the fragmented field of natural history studies from the Americas, largely based on specimens he had access to from the British collections of Thomas Pennant and Anna Blackburne, both pioneering natural historians. It was one of the central works in Forster's concerted push to establish himself in England and successfully brought him to the attention of the British scientific fraternity, attention which ultimately led to his appointment to Cook's voyage after the precipitate withdrawal of Joseph Banks in early 1772.

First edition, and a rare early work by the German-born scientist most famous for sailing on Cook's second voyage. Forster was a difficult man but a serious researcher, and this work represents his attempt to systematise the fragmented field of natural history studies from the Americas, largely based on specimens he had access to from the British collections of Thomas Pennant and Anna Blackburne, both pioneering natural historians. It was one of the central works in Forster's concerted push to establish himself in England and successfully brought him to the attention of the British scientific fraternity, attention which ultimately led to his appointment to Cook's voyage after the precipitate withdrawal of Joseph Banks in early 1772.

A pioneering study of North America natural history on the Linnaean model, the book has a fine frontispiece plate of a falcon by the natural history artist Moses Griffith. Coincidentally, and this is a good example of the concentric circles of interest and acquaintance that emanated from Joseph Banks' house in Soho Square, Griffith was the artist privately retained by Pennant, and who had been commissioned the same year to paint the Rainbow Lorikeet collected on Cook's Endeavour voyage that Banks had brought back to England (that painting is today in the National Library of Australia).

The work is, in effect, a manifesto for better collecting and more systematised recording of natural history from beyond the borders of Europe. The key point is that the book is designed in such a way as to encourage further work to be done, and perhaps the most significant section is Forster's important note on collecting and preserving specimens, 'Short Directions for Lovers and Promoters of Natural History.' This substantial part (about half) of the book gives a fascinating overview of the best practice of the era, much in the vein of similar guides such as those of John Ellis (1770) and William Curtis (1771), but with the added interest of having been penned by Forster himself, who personally went on to make an enormous collection of artificial curiosities and natural history specimens in the Pacific. These directions give quite an insight into how Forster personally went about his work with Cook, with glimpses of various practices that he helped establish: specimens should be accompanied by detailed field notes, as well as 'the name by which the animal goes in his country, or among the various tribes of Indian nations'.

The book is very scarce, with only three copies recorded since 1993. We have not traced a copy of this original edition in any Australian library, where it is represented only by microform copies and by the second edition of 1882 (edited by Philip Lutley Sclater for the Willughby Society, its publication an indication of the scarcity of the original edition even then).

Hoare (ed.), The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster; NLA online catalogue; O'Reilly-Reitman, 2464; Pritzel, 2974 (journal publication only); Sabin, 25133.

Price (AUD): $14,750.00  other currencies Ref: #4505068

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