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Catalogus Bibliothecae Historico-Naturalis Josephi Banks
London: W. Bulmer, 1796-, 1800. Five volumes bound in four, octavo, extra-illustrated with two portraits of Banks, manuscript dedication to Baron Cobres on front endpaper of volume IV; a good set in old half calf with marbled boards, volume II not quite matching but with similarly marbled boards, sympathetically rebacked. Privately issued catalogue of Banks' library. Rare: the complete private library catalogue of Sir Joseph Banks, with a fascinating provenance. Only 250 copies were printed of this wonderful work, and sets are not often seen for sale, while complete sets are distinctly rare since the fifth volume is more often absent. The few examples that have come onto the market seem almost without exception to have had interesting associations, tending to confirm the supposition that the book was never really published for conventional public sale, being intended rather for presentation among Banks' wide and influential coterie. This set is no exception, with a manuscript note in a secretarial hand to the front endpaper of volume IV noting "Baron Cobres from Sir Joseph Banks". This is particularly appealing, as the natural history collection of the Baron Joseph Paul von Cobres was one of the most significant of its time. Indeed, the annotated catalogue of his collection, the Deliciae Cobresianae of 1782, is considered to be one of the three great private collection catalogues of the eighteenth century, together with the Bibliotheca Riviniana (1727) of the German botanist August Quirinus Rivinus, and this catalogue of Banks' library. It comes as no surprise to find that the Deliciae Cobresianae is listed in Banks' library. Just as intriguingly, a more recent note to the endpaper of the first volume also explains this set's unusual provenance, commenting that four of the volumes present here (I, III, IV, & V) were purchased from a descendant of James Sowerby; volume II, later added, bears the ownership inscription of the chemist W.T. Brande and the stamp of the Glasgow Philosophical Society. Sowerby was an influential natural history artist, perhaps best known to an Australian audience for his collaboration with James Edward Smith on A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland of 1793, the first separately published book on Australian botany. Sowerby also became heavily involved with Sir Joseph Banks. Banks' superb library was ultimately bequeathed to the British Museum. Many voyage writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Dalrymple and Burney among them, acknowledged the debt that they owed to Banks' library and to his generosity in making his books and manuscripts available to them. 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. 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.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-19           Check availability:      Biblio    

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