Enthusiast book collectors, who have the passion and money to buy some of the world’s most expensive books written by this world’s extraordinary thinkers, scientists, influential authors and the works of seminal masters, can now also buy the world’s most beautiful book on fish. A magnificent copy of the first edition of Markus-Elieser Bloch’s monumental work, leads Bonhams sale of the Angling Library of Alan Jarvis at Knightsbridge on Tuesday 22 May.
The drawings were taken from Bloch’s collection of some 1500 fish, the largest collection of its time, which he put together from purchases made at home and from returning travelers and missionaries from all over the world. Sir William Hamilton, husband of Emma the redoubtable mistress of Admiral Nelson, was one such contributor, bringing specimens back with him from Naples.
Some of the finely colored plates, executed by a variety of artists and engravers, are heightened with silver to reflect the metallic sheen of fish scales.
Markus-Elieser Bloch’s, Ichtyologie, ou histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des poissons. Avec des figures enluminées, dessinées d’après nature, which was published in six monumental volumes between 1785 and 1797, is estimated at £30,000-£50,000 ($49,000 – $81,000).
The sale also features a fine first edition of Izaack Walton’s 1653 The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation, Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. First editions of this, by far the most famous book on angling, rarely come to auction and in the words of Westwood and Satchell in their 1883 Catalog of Books on Angling, “A first Walton confers distinction upon its owner”. It is estimated at £40,000-£50,000 ($65,000 – $81,000). [Bonhams]