ALBIN, Eleazar. A Natural History of Spiders and other Curious Insects. John Tilly for R. Montagu etc. 1736.
4to. Contemporary russia with gilt border of flowers and thistles to sides, recently rebacked with gilt lettering and rules to spine; pp. [viii] + 76, hand-coloured frontispiece of the author riding a horse amidst arachnids and 53 hand-coloured plates; previous owner's bookplate to front pastedown, gift inscription dated 1776 to rear flyleaf, a little rubbing to edges with faint dark mark to rear board, internally a few light marks, otherwise very clean.
First and only edition. Albin (1690-1742) has been described as "the first of the great entomological book illustrators of the 18th century" (Michael A. Salmon, Peter Marren, Basil Harley The Aurelian Legacy (University of California Press, 2000) pp. 109-110), and as his pose on the frontispiece suggests his renown as a watercolourist gave him a certain social cachet. This book followed on from his celebrated Natural History of English Insects (1720), which concentrated on butterflies and moths. The beautiful plates in this volume show us spiders and scorpions alongside mites, fleas and lice, showing Albin's eye for grisly detail as well as his aesthetic sensibility. Some of the descriptions are by Robert Hooke, author of Micrographia. Albin's work was the basis for a later book by Thomas Martyn, who used the illustrations in his Aranei (1793).