[WILKES, Benjamin (fl.1740-1750). The English Moths and Butterflies. London: Benjamin Wilkes, [?1747-1749] or Benjamin White, 1773.]
4° (315 x 270mm). 104 (only, of 120) hand-coloured etched plates by Wilkes after Wilkes [the butterflies, moths, and larvae] and Georg Dionysius Ehret and Jacob van Huysum [the background plants], 26 with manuscript notes on paper slips listing the 'Flies' and 'Plants' tipped onto the inner margins. (Occasional light spotting, marking or browning, some light marginal dampstaining, lacking text leaves and 16 plates.) Contemporary half red roan gilt over marbled boards, gilt morocco lettering-piece 'BOTANY' on spine, gilt morocco lettering-piece 'MRS GERARD *1816*' on upper board (some wear causing small losses on corners, spine-ends and lettering-piece, upper joint split). Provenance: Elizabeth Gerard (née Ferrars, b.1779, lettering-piece, and by descent).
WILKES' FINE SERIES OF PLATES OF ENGLISH LEPIDOPTERA. Wilkes' work illustrates all three stages of each specimen's development, and each plate is carefully designed with an artist's eye for layout, and also shows each insect with its food plant. Indeed, both the title and the text make it clear that this work is equally about the flowers and plants on which the butterflies and moths depend (etched by Wilkes after drawings by Ehret and van Huysum), as it is about the insects themselves. 'Following an invitation by a friend to a meeting of the Aurelian Society, Wilkes became a member and proceeded to form his own collection of English lepidoptera, making sketches of the various stages in the life histories of many species as possible. Encouraged by Mr. Joseph Dandridge, who was also a patron of Albin, Wilkes decided to begin publication of the notes on the native lepidoptera which he had compiled over a period of ten years, illustrating these with his own drawings' (Lisney p.121). The work was first published in 1747-1749 and reissued in 1773; this near-complete set of plates is probably from the second edition, and was bound up for Elizabeth Gerard (the wife of John Gerard of Windle Hall, Lancashire, the son of Sir Robert Gerard, 9th Bt), and she has inserted slips before some of the plates, with notes identifying the plates and lepidoptera illustrated. Lisney 185-186; Nissen ZBI 4410-4410a.