Warrington: Benj. White, 1776. 4 vols. 8vo. xxxii, [i], 96, 89-418 (eg., 424) ; [iv], 421-786, ; [iv], 410, , 425, ; [ii], viii, [viii], 150, , 151-154, . With 280 engraved plates (3 folding & 1 folding page of sheet music) and 1 text illustration. Each volume with engraved title and second printed title, volume 4 with engraved title only, as issued. Contemporary mottled calf, re-backed. Several pencil notes in margins of volume 1. Some faint offset from plates, otherwise a handsome copy with an engraved bookplate in volume 4. Item #586
Fourth edition of Pennant's meticulous study of British fauna, covering quadrupeds, birds, fish, reptiles and crustaceans. With over one hundred more plates than the first edition, Pennant's passion for careful classification and depiction of the natural world is clearly evident in this work. Written at a time when the study of exotic natural history was very popular in Europe, Pennant wished to show the beauty of England: "we are desirous of diverting the astonishment of our countrymen at the gifts of nature bestowed on other kingdoms, to a contemplation of those with which . . . she has enriched our own." (Preface). Though this work covers all sorts of animals found in England, it is especially valuable for is extensive coverage of both land and sea birds, with over 98 of the plates being dedicated thereto; 56 of the plates depict 163 different figures of sea-shells.
Pennant (1726-98) was a distinguished English naturalist and traveler who wrote numerous books on natural history and travel, including two on the zoology of India and the Arctic. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society, he corresponded regularly with all of the leading naturalists of the day, including Linnaeus, Sir Joseph Banks and Buffon, using much of their research in his books. He greatly contributed to "organizing, popularizing and promoting the study of natural history" (DSB, X, p. 509).