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JONSTON, John (1603-1675)

Naeukeurige beschryving van de Natuur der viervoetige dieren, vissen, en bloedelooze water-dieren, vogelen, kronkeldieren, slangen en draken.

Amsterdam, J.J. Schipper, 1660. First Dutch edition. Folio (377 x 237 mm), six parts in one volume; pp. 8,194; 8, 179, 1, 56; 181, 3; 8, 152; 39, 1. With 4 beautiful allegorical engraved title pages and 250 full-page fine engraved plates by Matthias Merian. Engraved head-pieces (Nissen, 1951). Contemporary mottled calf. Professional rebacking of hinges incorporating original spine. Spine with six raised bands and gilt decorations. Second compartment reads J. Jonston van de dieren. The preliminaries of some sections in the Dutch edition are misbound.

An Amsterdam copy on thick paper without age browning in a contemporary dark leather binding, very rare in this condition.

Jonston (1603-1675), born in Poland of Scottish ancestors, was an assiduous compiler and published numerous works. He was a physician, practising medicine at Leiden for several years. His Historiae Naturalis appeared in instalments at Frankfurt between 1649-1662. It was reprinted in its entirety at Amsterdam in 1660. The work has four main parts: Part one, mammals with 80 plates; part two, fishes with 48 plates, one more than in the Latin edition, depicting the sea unicorn, with an extra leaf of text; a sub-part of part two with other sea animals including 20 plates; part three birds with 62 plates; part four insects with 28 plates; a sub-part of part four with snakes and dragons including 12 plates. Jonston's compilations are usually full of images. The latter are the real pleasure of these books today. They include fabulous beasts such as the unicorn, phoenix, mermaid and dragon. Apparently Jonston could not or would not distinguish between the creatures haunting the misty but always accessible regions of human imagination and those roaming in sunlit but uncharted regions of the real world (Dance, 1978). The Dutch edition was presented by the Dutch East India Company in 1663 at Decima to the Japanese ruler Shogun Yoshimune, and it became the only source of knowledge on Western zoology in Japan until 1750, when a Japanese compilation was published. Provenance: Inscription in Indian ink on frontis pastedown: "Desen boek behoort toe aan L .Salms de Lorge". Nissen, Schöne Fischbücher, 1951, 82; Dance, 1978.

Price: € 8.000,00

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