"THE BOOK IS HANDSOMELY PRINTED, AND THE PLATES ARE FINELY EXECUTED FROM DRAWINGS BY EHRET": HUGHES' NATURAL HISTORY OF BARBADOS, 1750 FIRST EDITION, WITH FOLDING MAP AND 30 FINE ENGRAVED FOLIO PLATES, MANY BY EHRET
(BARBADOS) HUGHES, Griffith. The Natural History of Barbados. In Ten Books. London: for the Author, 1750. Folio (9-1/2 by 13-1/2 inches), contemporary full calf rebacked in calf-gilt, raised bands, red morocco spine label; pp. , v, , 314, . $5500.
First edition of this important work on the flora and fauna of Barbados, with folding map of the island by Thomas Jefferys and 30 folio engraved plates, 12 after renowned botanical artist G.D. Ehret, one of the greatest botanical painters of the 18th century.
"The book is handsomely printed, and the plates are finely executed from drawings by Ehret" (Sabin). "Not a great deal is known concerning Griffith Hughes… While rector of St. Lucy's parish in the north of Barbados, he brought out his Natural History of the island. At that time he was a member of the Royal Society and obviously a competent botanist. The book is one to place beside Catesby's Natural History (1731-), which also gave some account of West Indian plants, in some instances the same ones, with similar local names. Hughes had an advantage over Catesby in that a majority of the Barbados plates were drawn by Ehret, whereas just three of Catesby's are from that gifted artist's hand. Probably several of the unsigned Barbados plates are also by Ehret, for he may have signed only those that he felt were good" (Hunt). Hughes' Natural History has been credited as the first book to describe grapefruit and to coin the term "yellow fever." Of the 30 plates, 22 are of botanical subjects, by Ehret and Bickham, engraved by Austen, Bickham and Mynde; the others depict fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and a "View of Hackelton's Cliff." Each plate is dedicated to a patron or subscriber and includes that person's name and coat of arms. With engraved vignette headpieces and elaborate woodcut initials. With unnumbered four-page Addenda, sometimes found at rear, bound at front; with ten-page List of Subscribers, with errata on last page of Subscribers. Of the approximately 1000 copies printed, about one-fifth were issued in large-paper format; the present copy is on standard folio-size paper. Sabin 33582. Great Flower Books, 104. Hunt 536. Nissen 950. Wood, 393.
Folding map trimmed a little close, affecting border on left margin. Plates and text generally clean, only mildly toned at times; contemporary calf boards nicely restored. A lovely copy.