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Rare album of exotic flora & fauna

AA, Pieter van der (compiler).
Icones arborum, fruticum et herbarum exoticarum quarundam a Rajo, Mentzelio, aliisque botanophilis quidem descriptarum, ast non delineatarum. Ut et animalium peregrinorum rarissimorum, tam volatilium, quam quadrupedum ac aquatilium, in extremis oris et desertis Indiarum et aliis locis repertorum.
Leiden, Pieter van der Aa, [ca. 1720]. Oblong 4to (22.5 x 27 cm). With an engraved, illustrated title-page, letterpress dedication and note to the reader (the latter with a woodcut decorated initial) and 80 etched and engraved plates (9 folding).Contemporary half calf, paste-paper sides, gold-tooled spine. engr. title-page + [2] pp. plus 80 plates.
€ 18,000
First and only edition of a very rare collection of 80 engravings and etchings, depicting exotic trees, other plants and animals from the East and West Indies, Africa and China. The species depicted include coffee, tea, balsam, tamarind and sycamore trees, guava fruit, litchi (labeled in Chinese characters), and lions, monkeys, snakes, fish, a manatee, Indians fishing with snakes, Chinese fishing with birds, and fictitious animals such as a unicorn, flying dragon, etc. The plates probably came from several sources, for they appear to be from different hands. Many of the botanical illustrations had appeared earlier in John Ogilby, Africa being an accurate description of the regions of Ægypt (1670) and Olfert Dapper, Description de lAfrique (1686). Van der Aa may have commissioned other plates himself, since some appear in his atlas La galerie agreable du monde, also from ca. 1720. The text in the plates is in Latin or Dutch, or both, and the engravings have been numbered in the lower right corner. The last plate (80), with the word "finis" below right, shows a farm house and horse-drawn cart flanked by scenes of farmers sowing, plouging and harvesting with the Leiden fortress and a church in the background, the whole in a decorated cartouche with human figures (with farming attributes), the Leiden coat of arms in the centre of the foot and the words "Soli Deo Gloria" on a banner at the head.
The title and note to the reader indicate that the compiler wished to illustrate botanical and zoological species described by John Ray, Leon Rauwolff and Christian Mentzel. The work was published in Leiden by Pieter van der Aa, who also signed the dedication to Herman Boerhaave, suggesting he probably edited it as well. Most bibliographies date the series ca. 1720.
The series is very rare, often incomplete and few libraries have any copy at all.
Paper slightly browned throughout, title-page cut short at foot, a small tear and a piece missing from the margin of plate 62, plate 70 cut down and mounted with loss. Binding slightly rubbed. Otherwise in very good condition. Bridson/White B63; Nissen, BBI 2339; Pritzel 10778; STCN (3 compl. & 1 incompl. copies); WorldCat (6 copies).
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Natural history  >  Botany (General) | Drawings, Photographs, Prints & Watercolours | Herbals & Medical Plants