Sammlung Verschiedener Auslandischer und Seltener Vögel
Engravings with original hand-coloring
Mark Catesby (1682-1749) was born and educated in England, and was originally sent to Carolina by the Royal Society in 1722 as a botanist. From there he traveled to Florida and the Bahamas, returning to England in 1726 with a vast store of information on the wildlife he had observed. By the spring of 1729, he had completed the first part of his landmark Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1734-1746), but it was not until 1746 that the work was finally finished. Catesby's publication became the earliest color-plate book on American birds.
Catesby's contemporary George Edwards (1694-1773) was also an ornithologist and bird illustrator, much influenced by the work of his colleague. Edwards is best known as the author of his Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743-51) and Gleanings of Natural History (1758-1764). The illustrations that graced these works were valued for their landscape backgrounds, which were unusual at the time.
To satisfy the tremendous demand for both these landmark works, Johann Michael Seligmann, a German publisher, issued a nine-volume compilation of the works of Mark Catesby and George Edwards. Seligmann's Sammlung Verschiedener Auslandischer und Seltener Vögel (1749-1776) contained plates based on the images of Catesby and Edwards, adding German and French titles. In bringing these masterworks to a larger audience, Seligmann earned himself a rightful place in natural history circles, and his charming prints, reflecting well on their sources, stand on their own as another respected source for eighteenth-century natural history documentation.