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Illustrations of British Entomology. Mandibulata. Vols I-V

by Stephens, J.F.

  • Hardback £600.00
  • Used Book Availability : In stock
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  • Catalogue No : 38072
  • Published : 1828-1832
  • Cover : Hardback


Vol. I-V, Mandibulata - Coleoptera (complete) wth 27 fine hand-coloured engraved plates by C.M. Curtis and J.O. Westwood (as called for), and an additional uncoloured copy of Plate 25. A further 7 volumes on other insect groups were also published.

James Francis Stephens (1792-1852) was an English entomologist, and this, his major work, was in competition with John Curtis’ British Entomology (1824-1839). This gave rise to an acrimonious dispute which split the British entomological establishment into opposing factions for over thirty years. Bound at the rear of Vol. IV is a contemporary 10-page article (dated 1831), by J.F. Stephens, from the Magazine of Natural History, 'Reply to Mr. Davis's Animadversions upon the recent Method of publishing his Illustrations of British Entomology'.

Charles Darwin, while a student at the University of Cambridge sent Stephens records of some of the insects he had collected, and was delighted when his contributions were credited in 33 entries (vast majority from Mandibulata/Coleoptera volumes as Darwin was an ardent beetle collector), quoting his words in all but two of the cases. Darwin recalled in his autobiography "No poet ever felt more delight at seeing his first poem published than I did at seeing in Stephen's Illustrations of British Insects the magic words, 'captured by C. Darwin, Esq.'" These records in Stephens constitute Darwin's first publication. (Freeman, 1977, pp 19-20)


5 vols, roy. 8vo, cont. half-leather, marbled boards, rubbed/scuffed; leather spines fragile and rather worn, some chipped with loss to head/foot; several joints partly split, front board detached from Vol. V, rear board and section of spine detatched from Vol. I. Discreet ink stamp to one plate only, otherwise plates clean. Ink stamp of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club (Shropshire) and printed label of Shrewsbury Subscription Library to endpapers. Recent bookplate of coleopterist, Richard A. Jones.

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