Maybe it is this lovely spring weather that has got me thinking about the wonderful books on Natural History in our Collections. Perhaps the most notable of which is The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, Vol.II, 1846 by John James Audubon. Famed for his fine artistry, life-like poses and inclusion of habitats, this naturalist was regularly quoted by such towering figures as Darwin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_James_Audubon
Darwin himself edited several volumes, documenting The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Including Pt.2: Mammalia by George R. Waterhouse. http://darwin-online.org.uk/EditorialIntroductions/Freeman_ZoologyOfBeagle.html
One original we have completed in its entirety is the book by Edinburgh’s own James Wilson, Illustrations of Zoology. Surely this is the next candidate to be converted into the book reader format? Here you can see ‘The Great White Dolphin’ (Beluga) drawn by Patrick Syme and engraved by W.H. Lizars. James Wilson tells us that ‘For three months in 1815 a White Whale was observed to inhabit the Firth (‘Frith’) of Forth’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wilson_%28zoologist%29
Another of my favourites is the Herbal De Historia Stirpium, 1542 by Fuchs – the man who gave his name to the flower Fuchsia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonhart_Fuchs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Historia_Stirpium_Commentarii_Insignes
And who could fail to love this frog from Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, Vol.2? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Catesby
Or miss the delicate beauty in the fronds of Hypnum preserved in the Album of Scottish Mosses, circa 1828?
There are many more fantastic images from our Natural History books, a few of which can be found by clicking the links below
After all this, I recommend a walk through one of Edinburgh’s many parks to see a bit of nature on your doorstep!
Susan Pettigrew, Photographer