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This post is on a rare book, a kind of incunable, perhaps without being generally recognised as so. The author is James Petiver (c. 1665–1718) lived in London where he held an apothecary, but became well-known for his study of botany and entomology. [1]

During his life time he published on rare animals and plants (his Gazophylacii work), in which he sometimes copied illustrations from older authors [2]. A.o. he had copied a figure from Martin Lister’s Historiae sive synopsis methodicae conchyliorum, which had appeared 1692–1697, without mentioning a source. [3] While nowadays this would undoubtedly been considered as plagiarism, this was probably an accepted custom in those days. It was a ventral figure of Liguus virgineus (Linnaeus, 1758), included in Petiver’s work on pl. 22 fig. 11.


In a rare posthumous work of Petiver, ‘Opera Historiam‘ [3] a second figure turns up. It is the same species, but this time in dorsal view. Comparison with older figures reveals it being a modified copy of Buonanni’s Recreatio mentis et oculi in observatione animalium testaceorum (1684); the shell is in mirror-shape and the original shadow was omitted. [4, 5]


I like to express many thanks to Jonathan Ablett (NHM, London), who – as always – has been very helpful to supply bibliographical data.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Petiver.
[2] Petiver, J. (1702-1711): Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas I (-X). In qua animalia, quadrupeda, aves, pisces, reptilia, insecta, vegetabilia … descriptionibus brevis et iconibus illustrantur. – London, Bateman, 156 pls. [After Gaedike, R.; Groll, E. K. & Taeger, A. 2012: Bibliography of the entomological literature from the beginning until 1863 : online database – version 1.0 – Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut.; see the annotation therein]
[2] Petiver, J. 1764: Jacobi Petiveri Opera Historiam naturalem spectantia; or Gazophylaceum containing several 1000 Figures of Birds, Beats, Fish, Reptiles, Insects, Shells, Corals, Fossils etc. from all Nations on 156 Copperplates, with Latin and English Names. – London (Bateman).
Lister, M. (1692–1697): Historiae sive synopsis methodicae conchyliorum et tabularum anatomicarum: 1057 pls. + 5 pls. with duplicate numbers + 22 anatomical pls. Londini.
[4] Buonanni, F. (1684): Recreatio mentis et oculi in observatione animalium testaceorum: curiosis naturae inspectoribus: [xvi +] 270 [+ 10] pp., 139 unnumbered pls. Romae (Varesii).
[5] More on pre-Linnean and Linnean figures for this group of shells in a paper scheduled to appear in July in the Archiv für Molluskenkunde.