Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Herbst (1743-1807) was a German naturalist and entomologist as well as a theologian and chaplain for the Prussian army.
Herbst was best known for helping Carl Jablonsky attempt to survey all known beetles (Order Colyoptera). The effort resulted in the massive, but still incomplete 'Naturgeschichte der in-und Ausländischen Insekten' (1785-1806) (see: i, ii)
The title of present interest - 'Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse' ([An attempt at] The Natural History of Crabs and Lobsters) - was released in instalments between about 1782 and the mid-1790s. There were three volumes of text and an atlas consisting of more than sixty hand-coloured engravings. It appears various editions were issued before 1800, some coloured, some not and some coloured later : all having an impact on the auction price today (ranging from, say, $6K to $18K).
Herbst's crab and lobster book was - as far as I can tell - the first comprehensive work on the crustaceans and definitely included descriptions and illustrations of previously unknown species. It is still regarded as a primary source in the field.
- The images in this post from 'Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse' were sourced from Berlin's Humboldt University (thumbnail page).
- A pdf can be obtained from the Biodiversity Heritage Library of Europe.
- The series can also be accessed from Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum (different colouring/style).
- Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum has a number of other works by JFW Herbst available via their Animal Database.
- Other brief sources: one, two, three, four.
- via Scientific Illustration tumblr.