PENNANT, Thomas (1726-1798)
[Large paper proof impressions of the plates from his History of Quadrupeds]
[London: B. and J. White, 1793]. Folio. (13 x 9 inches). 112 engraved plates, proof impressions before letters printed on laid paper, engraved by Mazell (i.e. 111 plates, plus the title vignette).
Contemporary red straight-grained morocco by Kalthoeber, covers bordered in gilt, spine with double-raised bands in seven compartments, lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt edges
Provenance: William Beckford (Sotheby's London, 6 May 1817, lot 289); George Chetwynd (bookplate and Glendon Hall blind-stamp on first plate); H.J.B. Clements (bookplate); Robert Pirie (bookplate)
Beckford's copy of large paper, proof impressions of the plates from Pennant's History of the Quadrupeds, elegantly bound by Kalthoeber.
While large paper editions of many of Pennant's works were available to purchase, albeit at significantly higher costs than regular issues, the present complete set of large paper proof impressions of the plates, printed before letters, was likely produced only for special patrons. The provenance of the volume to William Beckford, arguably the most influential patron of arts and letters in late 18th and early 19th century Great Britain, bears out that theory. The only other similar collection of large paper proofs we can trace was sold in 1803 in the Bibliotheca Woodhousiana, sold by Leigh and Sotheby's, December 1803, lot 640. Dibdin chose the copy as one of the most valuable books in that collection. A Welsh naturalist and traveler, Pennant was one of the foremost zoologists of his time, frequently corresponding with the leading naturalists of Great Britain and Europe. The present work was first published in 1771 as Synopsis of Quadrupeds, but was enlarged to become the History of Quadrupeds, with editions published in 1781 (with 52 plates) and expanded again in 1793 (111 plates). The present proofs are from that final, most complete edition. "Pennant's name stands high among the naturalists of the eighteenth century" (DAB).
Dibdin, Bibliomania pp. 594-596; Nissen ZBI 3108.