The Naturalist's Pocket Library… Accompanied with an Almanack…
The Naturalist's Pocket Library. Ornamented with most Elegant Engravings, Illustrated by Corresponding Descriptions, Accompanied with an Almanack, ruled Pages for Occurrences, Observations Relative to Gardening etc.

London: G. Kearsley, 1797.

16mo (117 x 73 mm) engraved and coloured title, iv pp (preliminaries), 14 unnumbered leaves (calendar and accounting), 44 pp.; with frontispiece and 12 numbered engraved and coloured plates by the English engraver Inigo Barlow of various animals and flowers; much of the text engraved; contemporary decorative red morocco wallet binding, covers mounted with multicoloured thin strips, gilt vertical parallel lines, pocket in front and back cover, gilt edges.

Charming illustrated natural history almanac in special binding: no other copy recorded.

A very attractive, complete, copy of this extremely rare eighteenth-century work of Australian and Pacific interest. In a charming, original, harlequin morocco binding, this is a fragile and amazing publication containing 12 full page hand coloured engravings, four of which are of Australian natural history (plates 7, 8, 11, and 12).

A very attractive, complete, copy of this extremely rare eighteenth-century work of Australian and Pacific interest. In a charming, original, harlequin morocco binding, this is a fragile and amazing publication containing 12 full page hand coloured engravings, four of which are of Australian natural history (plates 7, 8, 11, and 12).

The book includes very interesting and early text about "New-Holland Animals": "The animals which have lately been discovered in the vast island, or rather continent of Australasia, or New Holland, have been very valuable acquisitions in the science of natural history". The short-beaked echidna "which is by the English settlers in the Botany bay called the Porcupine Ant-eater" is given an extensive description. The birds of New Holland are described as remarkable for the splendour and variety of their colours: "As an example of this, we have selected a beautiful little Parrakeet… Another very elegant bird found in New Holland is a species of Creeper… it is not very often seen, as is found in the neighbourhood of Botany Bay".

Both charming and fragile, this lovely object is a wonderful example of the excitement in Europe created by recent discoveries of natural history in the new world. The highly elaborate binding we assume to be unique to this copy. Despite Kearsley's announcement on the title-page that his publication is "To be continued Annually" this issue differs only from one that came out the previous year by having the date 1797 appear at the head of the title-page. The 1796 issue is recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue from a single example at the Huntington Library; we have previously handled a copy of that issue in a black morocco and silver binding. No copy is recorded of this issue.

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The work also contains an engraved blank monthly diary, a Gardener's Calendar, information on sovereign families of Europe, and even an alphabetical list of the members of the Houses of Lords and Commons.

Also described in the text is the "beautiful species of Certhia… it is found in many of the islands of the vast Pacific Ocean, and is one of the birds which furnish the natives of those islands with the red feathers, so conspicuous in the vestments of their chiefs and persons of distinction". In Hawaii the ʽAhu ʽula (feather cloak) and the mahiole (feather helmet) were symbols of the highest rank of the chiefly aliʽi class, and the mamo or drepanis, the names more often used for the certhia, gave more than their feathers to the great productions of featherwork in Hawaii that so excited the early visitors and collectors: they gave their lives and those of future generations as the birds are now either actually extinct or very nearly so as a result of the massive demand for their highly-coloured feathers.

Not in any specialized bibliography (Nissen, Ferguson, etc).

Condition Report: In fine condition, with just some light rubbing, and slight wear to edges of front cover.

Ref: #5000821

Condition Report