Thomas Bell (1792-1880) was a dentist by trade but his interests were occupied by zoology. He was a founding member of the London Zoological Society, President of the Linnean Society, member of the Royal Society and Professor of Zoology at King's College London.
He released a number of zoological publications but his great passion was for crustaceans. Darwin consigned to his care and study all crustacean specimens collected during the voyage of the Beagle.
So his intention of publishing a book outlining the sum of world knowledge about all the known species of turtle was somewhat outside his experience. The work was issued in 8 parts between 1832 and 1838 but a problem with the publisher left a quarter of it unreleased. (further text by John Gray would accompany the leftover original illustrations and the complete volume was issued 40 years later)
The importance of this book lays of course with the illustrations. James de Carle Sowerby had access to living specimens and painted 66 pictures which were made into lithographs by the great Edward Lear - the original publication contained 40 hand coloured plates and is considered to be the foremost collection of turtle illustrations ever released. The edition from which the above images derive includes 61 lithographic plates.
A Monograph of the Testudinata is online at the Octavo website - click on any of the images to launch the viewing browser and note the 'thumbnail' link at the top. (I thought the site wasn't working a while back when I neglected to allow pop-ups. Thanks for the tip misteraitch!)
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Posted by peacay at 3:43 am