13 June 2002
MILLER, John Frederick (1715--1790) and George SHAW (1751-1813). Cimelia physica: Figures of rare and curious quadrupeds, birds, &c. Together with several of the most elegant plants, engraved and coloured from the subjects themselves by John Frederick Miller, with descriptions by George Shaw. London: by T. Bensley for Benjamin and John White and John Sewell, 1796.
2° (525 x 352). 60 hand-coloured etched plates by and after Miller, including 41 plates of birds, many printed in sepia, some heightened with gum arabic. (Some light browning and offsetting to plates.) Contemporary straight-grained crimson morocco gilt, covers with outer Greek key pattern, and inner border of bay leaves and palmettes within broad and narrow fillets, with the Botfield arms added at centre, gilt spine with repeat pattern of circles, dots and flowers and green moorocco lettering-piece, Greek key pattern turn-ins, gilt edges (scuff marks on upper cover). Provenance: Alexander Mackenzie (book label, and [?] his manuscript index mounted on front blank) -- Reference to a review of Miller's plates in the Critical Review, July 1786 (pencilled on front free endpaper).
A FINELY BOUND COPY of the second edition. This series of plates by Miller first appeared between 1776-1792 under the title Various subjects of Natural History, wherein are delineated birds, animals and many curious plants. The descriptions by George Shaw were new to the second edition. This copy contains the plate list but not the 10-leaf Linnean table forming the text to the first edition and sometimes included in the second. The quadrupeds, ranging in size from the moose to the chameleon, are outnumbered by the 'rare and curious' birds, usually shown next to a carefully-chosen plant. Among the parrots, loxia and oriols is Psittacus Melanocephalus said by Shaw 'to be of a peculiarly stubborn and obstinate nature; tamed with great difficulty and very quarrelsome.' Other rarities include the flightless Cassowary 'totally destitute of wings'; Columba coronata 'the largest and most magnificent' of the doves; the Antarctic Falcon; Vultur Secretarius or the Secretary Bird with 'its remrkable crest'; Alcedo formosa a South American kingfisher 'never before described'; the violet-black Hoopoe 'one of the rarest of its genus as well as one of the most beautiful'; and an Indian toucan. The plates are printed on paper with the watermark of J. Taylor or J. Whatman. Fine Bird Books p. 94; Nissen IVB 638; Stafleu and Cowan 6033; Wood p. 465; Zimmer p. 585.
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