Item #5000703 A Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales. Collected, engraved, and faithfully painted after nature. John William LEWIN.
A Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales. Collected, engraved, and faithfully painted after nature.

A Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales…
A Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales. Collected, engraved, and faithfully painted after nature.

London: J.H. Bohte, 1822.

Quarto, with 19 handcoloured engraved plates by Lewin; original publisher's crimson half morocco and papered boards, original large decorative printed label on the upper board; preserved in a quarter morocco folding box.

Lewin's celebrated "Insects" in the original boards

A beautiful copy: very rare in such fine, fresh, original condition.

A beautiful copy: very rare in such fine, fresh, original condition.

Published posthumously under the guidance of his wife Maria Lewin, this is the 1822 edition of John Lewin's first book, Prodromus entomology… re-titled and with an engraved and hand coloured frontispiece not present in the 1805 edition.

The other engravings are identical to those of the earlier version, indicating that the original plates till existed at the time of publication. In this copy, as is common with many copies of Lewin's Birds as well as his Lepidopterous Insects, there are varying watermark dates on the plates. The majority of the full-page engravings bear the imprint "Published as the Act directs. June 1st 1803 G.J.W. Lewin, New South Wales", although the added frontispiece has no caption.

It is assumed that both the original 1805 engraved plates for this work and for the 1822 Birds (catalogue number 28) had been retrieved by Maria from her brother-in -law Thomas Lewin. Both Lewin's 1822 Birds and Insects were published and distributed by the Covent Garden bookseller, Johann Heinrich Bohte. "An invoice from Maria to Bohte indicates she may have been colouring the volumes…" (Richard Neville, John Lewin Painter and Naturalist, SLNSW 2010, p.249).

The history of the book has much to do with one of Lewin's chief supporters, the English entomologist Dru Drury, who commissioned Lewin to supply him with specimens. Drury persuaded Lewin to work on a book of insects, and by 1804 both manuscript and copper engravings had been completed and sent to England. Lewin's brother Thomas printed and published the work in 1805, stating in the Preface that 'it should be observed also, that the natural history, as well as the engraving, was done on the spot, and not from dry specimens or notes still more abstruse. And all that was left for us to do was merely to define the genus, and name the individual in some cases…'.

He also noted that 'The contents of this little volume are lepidopterous insects, indigenous of New South Wales, there collected, painted, and engraved, by the Author; and sent to London by him for publication to furnish him with the means of returning to England, his native country, after an absence of near eight years, which he has spent almost solely in the pursuit of natural history, principally in the branches, Ornithology and Entomology; in which he has, in New South Wales and in Otaheite, made some hundreds of original paintings…'.

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Butler, Printed images in colonial Australia 1801-1901, pp. 14-16; Ferguson, 874; Musgrave, p. 200.

Condition Report: The joints well restored and the endpapers renewed; with only minor offsetting onto the text pages, a fine copy

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Condition Report