Catalogus Bibliothecæ. BANKS, Jonas DRYANDER.

Catalogus Bibliothecæ

London: William Bulmer, 1796-1800.

Five volumes, octavo; volumes I-IV in contemporary half russia, volume V in contemporary calf.

The centre of intellectual London

The complete catalogue of the private library of Sir Joseph Banks. Only 250 copies were printed, and complete sets are distinctly rare since the fifth volume, present here, was published two years after the rest of the set and is more often than not lacking. This is the great memorial to one of the finest of all English private libraries, especially notable for its influence on the history of voyages and travels, and the advancement of natural science. Banks' superb library, ultimately bequeathed to the British Museum, was widely available to scholars and naturalists and there must have been barely a single figure of any significance in intellectual or scientific London who had not been made welcome there. If any one place could be singled out as the intellectual centre of London it would have to have been either the Royal Society, or Joseph Banks' library itself at the heart of Banks' famous house in Soho Square and staffed by experts.

The complete catalogue of the private library of Sir Joseph Banks. Only 250 copies were printed, and complete sets are distinctly rare since the fifth volume, present here, was published two years after the rest of the set and is more often than not lacking. This is the great memorial to one of the finest of all English private libraries, especially notable for its influence on the history of voyages and travels, and the advancement of natural science. Banks' superb library, ultimately bequeathed to the British Museum, was widely available to scholars and naturalists and there must have been barely a single figure of any significance in intellectual or scientific London who had not been made welcome there. If any one place could be singled out as the intellectual centre of London it would have to have been either the Royal Society, or Joseph Banks' library itself at the heart of Banks' famous house in Soho Square and staffed by experts.

The catalogue was compiled by Jonas Dryander, the Swedish botanist who succeeded Solander as Banks' librarian in 1782 and later became librarian to the Royal Society and a founder fellow and first librarian of the Linnean Society. DNB considers the Banks catalogue to be his magnum opus and quotes Sir James Smith's opinion that "a work so ingenious in design and perfect in execution can scarcely be produced in any science". Taylor notes that it approaches a "virtually complete bibliography of eighteenth-century writings on natural history". The first volume (1798) describes Banks' general books, including voyages and travels, the second (1796) his zoological books, the third (1797) his botanical books, and the fourth (1799) those relating to mineralogy. The fifth volume (1800), which is lacking in three of the nine sets located by Taylor, comprises a supplement and an author index.

Banks' library has been the subject of extensive study in modern times. Recently a superb long article by Edwin D. Rose has been published by the Royal Society, "From the South Seas to Soho Square: Joseph Banks's Library, collection and Kingdom of natural history" (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsnr.2018.0059).

This item can be seen in our latest catalogue.

Besterman, 4151; Carter, p. 223; Petzholdt, p. 546; Taylor, p. 231.

Condition Report: Upper joint of volume 5 repaired at head, otherwise fine.

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