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[ From Gentleman's Magazine ]
[ Text on Catesby & his Natural History | Reference books on Catesby ]
A wonderful series of prints from Mark Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first natural history of American flora and fauna. First issued between 1731 and 1743, this work would eventually include 220 prints, which for the first time systematically illustrated American birds, animals and plants. For their historic significance, appealing appearance and great scarcity, these are amongst the very finest American natural science prints ever produced.
The popularity of the Catesby images led to the publication, in 1771, of a third edition of the Natural History. At least one other edition was issued in the early 19th century, but the text was never reset so all the prints from 1771 on are called "third edition" prints. The later prints can be identified as they were printed on wove paper, rather than the hand-laid paper used for the prints up to 1771. The images are the same, though the impressions are not quite as strong and the color tends to be brighter and more opaque.
In 1752-53, when George Edwards was preparing the second edition of Catesby's seminal Natural History, there was considerable interest in this work which illustrated the strange and marvelous natural history of the American colonies. This inspired Gentleman's Magazine, an illustrated journal issued for the British gentleman, to produce a number of copper and wood engraved images after Catesby, to give its readers a sampling of the forthcoming work.
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