Old and new natural history books


Alexander Reeuwijk, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This photo shows author Alexander Reeuwijk behind a table with old natural history books in Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. Like the other photos of this blog post, this is a cellphone photograph, of 19 October 2014.

On that day, as this blog already noted, Remco Daalder, Amsterdam city ecologist, was awarded the Jan Wolkers Prize. This prize is named after famous Dutch artist and author Jan Wolkers. Natural history was one of his subjects. The Jan Wolkers Prize is for the best natural history book of the year in the Netherlands. Remco Daalder’s book is about swifts.

Remco Daalder’s book had been nominated for the prize shortlist along with four other books. One of them was Alexander Reeuwijk’s book about nineteenth century British naturalist and evolution theorist Alfred Russel Wallace and his travels in Indonesia.

The three other nominations were for Mathijs Deen, for a book on the Wadden Sea region; Bibi Dumon Tak for her children’s book on common animals; and various authors for a book on Planken Wambuis nature reserve.

Back to Alexander Reeuwijk. He presented his ten favourite natural history books from the Naturalis collections. These books were from the sixteenth till the twentieth centuries.

Pierre Belon's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The oldest of Alexander’s ten books was from 1553. It was by Pierre Belon from France, about fish. Belon is often seen as the first ichthyologist. In Belon‘s time, fishes were not differentiated from aquatic mammals, aquatic invertebrates, etc. The book discussed over a 100 species for the first time ever.

The copy in Leiden is of De aquatilibus; the Latin translation of the French original.

Pierre Belon's book on sharks, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The book contains many woodcut pictures, including of hammerheads and other sharks.

Alexander Reeuwijk’s next book was from five years later, from 1558. It was by Conrad Gessner from Switzerland.

Lobster, in Gessner's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Gessner’s Historiae animalium was the first attempt to describe all the animals known. Including the lobster pictured here on a woodcut in the book.

Lobster, watercolour, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The original watercolour depiction of the lobster, used for the woodcut, is also present in Naturalis.

Mark Catesby, parrots, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The next book was based on two books, originally in English. Mark Catesby died in 1749. He wrote Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, published 1729-1747. George Edwards wrote A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, published 1743-1764. Catesby’s and Edwards’ books contain many pictures of birds considered as ‘exotic’ by eighteenth century Europeans, like parrots in North America and the Caribbean.

Mark Catesby's and Edwards' Dutch translation, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Catesby’s and Edwards’ books were translated into Dutch by M. Houttuyn, and published as Verzameling uitlandsche en zeldzaame vogelen in 1772-1781.

Spotted sandpiper, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This picture in the Dutch translation depicts, below, a spotted sandpiper from the Americas.

Alexander’s fourth book was Nederlandsche Vogelen, about Dutch birds, by Nozeman and Sepp, published in various volumes 1770-1829.

Book number five was Histoire Naturelle des plus Rares Curiosoitez de la Mer des Indes. By Louis Renard, about marine life in Indonesia. The Leiden copy was published in 1782, after the author’s death.

Next, a book about plants in the Netherlands: the Flora Batava. Jan Kops wrote the first volume, published in 1800.

Then, Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinacés (1808). Written by Coenraad Temminck; about pigeons. With pictures by Pauline de Courcelles Knip.

Mauritius blue pigeon

One of Ms de Courcelles Knip’s pictures for the book shows a Mauritius blue pigeon; now extinct.

The next book was about kingfishers. It was A monograph of the Alcedinidae: or, family of kingfishers, 1868-1871, by Richard Bowdler Sharpe. John Keulemans made the pictures.

Then, a book from the USA, by Sherman Foote Denton. It was As Nature Shows Them : Moths and Butterflies of the United States, East of the Rocky Mountains; from 1898.

Finally, another book on birds in the Netherlands: Ornithologia Neerlandica, de vogels van Nederland, 1922-1935. Eduard Daniel van Oort wrote it. Marinus Koekkoek painted the pictures.

10 thoughts on “Old and new natural history books

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  2. 13-11-2014 | Oudste schelpenboek ter wereld

    Eén van de oudste schelpenboeken ter wereld, geschreven door Rondeletius in 1555, is in Tresoar in Leeuwarden te zien. Door de eeuwen heen hebben mensen al schelpen verzameld. De bijzondere vormen, de mooie kleuren en de houdbaarheid maken schelpen tot echte ‘hebbedingetjes’. In vroeger tijden werden er tekeningen van schelpen in boeken getoond. Opvallend is hoe weinig de schelpen door evolutie veranderd zijn, c.q. hoe nauwkeurig ze destijds al zijn afgebeeld.

    Carolus von Linnaeus

    Behalve het oudste boek ter wereld, is er het prentenboek van Rumphius met prachtige tekeningen van ‘rariteiten’ uit Ambon (postuum uitgegeven in 1705), de serie boeken van de Zweedse bioloog Linnaeus die veel schelpen hun Latijnse naam gaf en de fraai geïllustreerde ‘Natuurkundige Uitspanningen’ van de Zeeuwse geneesheer en natuuronderzoeker Job Baster uit 1765. Maar ook zijn er boeken van de laatste eeuw te zien, zoals van Dorsman, Entrop en de Boer, tot de Ecologische atlas Nederlandse weekdieren van 2013. De oudste boeken zijn het interessantst want toen hadden de schelpen nog niet hun wetenschappelijke naam. Die kwam pas vanaf 1758 in zwang toen Carolus von Linnaeus zijn binaire (tweedelige) naamgeving bedacht. Deze bestaat uit een geslachts- en een soortnaam. Deze naamgeving wordt nu door wetenschappers in de hele wereld gebruikt.

    Het 80-jarig bestaan van de Nederlandse Malacologische Vereniging is voor Tresoar aanleiding om deze tentoonstelling van schelpenboeken te maken, die aansluit bij de Breng-Je-Schelpdag in het nabijgelegen Natuurmuseum Fryslân op 22 november. De tentoonstelling bij Tresaor in Leeuwarden is te zien van zien van 5 tot 29 november. Kijk voor meer informatie op http://www.tresoar.nl.

    http://www.waddenvereniging.nl/nieuws/?ref=nieuwsbrief#item_8051

    Like

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