Publisher Information: Oxford: Sheldonial Theatre, 1686.
Ray, John (1627-1705); Francis Willughby (1635-1672). De historia piscium libri quatuor. Folio. , 343, , 30, pp. Engraved frontispiece by Paul van Somer; 187 engraved plates. Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1686 [engraved title dated 1685]. 378 x 238 mm. Modern quarter morocco, marbled boards., front hinge a bit worn. Title-leaf repaired in inner margin, uniform toning, a few small marginal tears in plates, but good to very good. Signature of Richard C. Rudolph (1909-2003) on title; embossed library stamp.
First Edition, First Issue. Like the Ornithology, the History of Fishes was almost completely the work of Ray, who compiled it using his and Willughby’s notes and the published writings of a number of authorities on fish, particularly Guillaume Rondelet and Ippolito Salviani. The work begins with an introductory essay on the definition of a fish: Ray rejected previous definitions that had indiscriminately encompassed all types of water-living animals but did include cetaceans with fishes despite their obvious affinities with viviparous quadrupeds. This essay is followed by others discussing the anatomy and physiology of fishes: Ray affirmed that fishes could hear, wrote extensively on the air-bladder, gave an account of the reproductive organs and denied that fish could reproduce through spontaneous generation. He rejected Rondelet’s classification by locality in favor of Aristotle’s system of Cetacei, Cartilaginei and Spinosi, which he then subdivided. The book was published by the Royal Society, many of whose members subscribed money for the plates; the greatest benefactor in this regard was the Society’s president Samuel Pepys, whose contribution covered the cost of seventy-nine plates. The engravings were produced in London while the text was printed at Oxford; these are sometimes found bound in two separate volumes, with the engraved title prefacing the volume of plates. This copy once belonged to Richard C. Rudolph, onetime professor of Chinese literature and archeology at UCLA. Keynes, Ray, 46. Nissen (zoology) 4471. Raven, John Ray, ch. 13. Wing W-2879. Garrison-Morton.com 7088.Book Id: 45484