Apart from the illustrations of fish in the reports of explorers – of which you can see samples in our category Sea Creatures – Explorers’ Plates – many other publications also illustrated fish, with varying degrees of scientific detail.
Please click on the images below to see enlargements of the full print.
The “Rolls Royce” of antique prints of fish are those from Ichthyologie, ou Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere des poissons [Ichthyology, or the natural history of fishes] by Marc Elieser Bloch, published in Berlin from 1785-1797. Nissan, the authority on ancient illustrated books describes it as “… the finest illustrated work on fishes ever produced.” It illustrated and described over 200 species of fish. Each print is a copper engraving 185 x 368 mm in size and shows, besides the whole fish, a cross section giving an idea of its shape. They are in beautiful original hand colour and excellent condition and are now very scarce.
ZC 047 Ostracion concatenates. [Boxfish]. Plate cxxxl. Original hand-colour, excellent condition. $A 550
ZC 048 Raja clavata [Thornback Ray]. Plate lxxxiii. Original hand-colour, excellent condition. $A 550
L’histoire naturelle des poissons [The natural history of fish] was part of the monumental Natural History of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788). As manager of the Jardin des Plantes [Botanical and Zoological Garden] in Paris from 1739, he enlarged that institution to become the leading focus of natural history in Europe. The 36 volume book he produced from 1749 to 1788 became the most authoritative and prestigious reference and was reproduced many times in different formats over the following century. Buffon also shone as a socialite and industrialist. The following prints measure 235 x 160 mm and are uncoloured. They are in excellent condition
ZC 051 Coral cod and 2 others. $A 60
ZC 052 Goldfish and carp. $A 60
ZC 053 Box fish. $A 60
Charles D’Orbigny’s Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle published in Paris in 1849 is considered by many experts to be the finest and best illustrated natural history work of the time. The finely drawn and engraved plates are delicately hand coloured. They measure 140 x 200 mm and are in excellent condition.
ZC 036 Chetodon & Diptorodon. [2 fish]. $A 65
ZC 037 Mugiloides, Gobioides & Blennoides. [3 fish]. $A 65