ABBOT, John (1751-1839) and Sir James Edward SMITH (1759-1828). The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia. London: T. Bensley for J. Edwards, Cadell and Davies, and J. White, '1797' [but c.1822].
2 volumes, 2° (408 x 310mm). 104 hand-coloured engraved plates by John Harris after Abbot, some heightened with gum-arabic. Parallel text in English and French, with index also in Latin. (Occasional light spotting, marking, or offsetting onto text, a few plates trimmed touching platemark but not affecting image, some plates very slightly creased, French preface and dedication bound in at the beginning of vol. II.) Contemporary maroon straight-grained morocco gilt, sides panelled in gilt and blind, borders of blind foliate rolls, gilt turn-ins, flat spines lettered and decorated in gilt, gilt edges, silk markers (somewhat rubbed and scuffed). Provenance: Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow (engraved bookplates and shelfmarks on spines) -- a few plates numbered in pencil.
FIRST EDITION, later issue. 'Abbot was a most assiduous collector, and an admirable draftsman of insects. [This] work is one of the most beautiful that this or any other country can boast of' (Swainson, quoted by Sabin). Born in Turnham Green, London in 1751, Abbot went to Virginia in 1773, then travelled south to Georgia in 1775, where he spent much of his long life compiling a scientific record of local birds and insects. In order to publish in London, the entomologist needed the co-operation and support of Sir James Smith, co-founder and first president of the Linnean Society. Smith, in the preface, praises Abbot highly as the first author 'since the celebrated, though not very accurate, Merian', to illustrate and describe the lepidoptera of the American continent scientifically, including both representations of the caterpillars and 'the plants on which each insect chiefly feeds'. Like the Botfield copy (sale, Christie's London, 13 June 2002, lot 125), this copy is a later issue of c.1822 (the date on the watermarks on some plates), although some text leaves are watermarked '1794'. Arnold Arboretum p. 27; BM(NH) I, p.2; Nissen ZBI 2; Dunthorne 287; Sabin 25. (2)