Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Il Gazzettiere Americano

Bird etchings from the 1763 Italian 
version of 'The American Gazetteer'



Tucano ò sia pica del Brasile
Tucano ò sia pica del Brasile

Description & notes: Toucan on the branch of a tree. Text describes a toucan with a red body and white throat. Scientific name: Ramphastos tucanus.

Illustration by Veremondo Rossi



Il re degli zopiloti ò sia degli avoltoi
Il re degli zopiloti ò sia degli avoltoi

Description & notes: Vulture or buzzard with skeletons of its prey about its feet. Text describes the vultures of the area around Acapulco; this is perhaps the turkey vulture or Cathartes aura.

Illustration by Veremondo Rossi



Penguino dell' America settentrionale
Penguino dell' America settentrionale

Description & notes: Penguin with detail of feather and head profile. Perhaps the Humboldt penguin which is native to Peru and Chile. Scientific name: Spheniscus Humboldti.

Illustration by Giuseppe Maria Terreni



Uccello Artico detto Nave da Guerra, che credesi il Maschio
Uccello Artico detto Nave da Guerra, che credesi il Maschio

Description & notes: Male Arctic tern. Scientific name: Sterna paradisaea.

Illustration by Antonio Gregori



Il pellicano d'America
Il pellicano d'America

Description & notes: Brown pelican stands on coast. Text describes pelican found in Jamaica. Scientific name: Pelecanus occidentalis.

Illustration by Violente Vanni



Gran grue della baia d'Hudson
Gran grue della baia d'Hudson

Description & notes: Heron from Hudson's Bay, probably a great blue heron. The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) range in Canada.

Illustration by Andrea Scacciati



Colibri col petto rosso maschio, e femmina
Colibri col petto rosso maschio, e femmina

Description & notes: Hummingbirds. Female sits on a nest with two eggs, while the male bird flies toward her. Also includes a butterfly.

Illustration by Veremondo Rossi



Airone cenerino dell' America settentrionale
Airone cenerino dell' America settentrionale

Description & notes: Little blue heron standing by the side of a pond. Also includes a fish. Identified as a gray heron (Ardea cinerea); here most likely a little blue heron (Egretta caerulea), a North American bird.

Illustration by Andrea Scacciati



1. Uccello Artico, che credesi la Femmina 2 Uccello chiamato volgarmente il Tropico
1. Uccello Artico, che credesi la Femmina
2. Uccello chiamato volgarmente il Tropico

Description & notes: Red-billed tropicbird and female Arctic tern. Includes detail of the two birds' heads. Scientific name of the red-billed tropicbird: Phaethon aethereus; scientific name of the Arctic tern: Sterna paradisaea.

Illustration by Ferdinando Gregori



1. Colibri verde colla coda lunga 2. Colibri minimo della sua grandezza naturale
1. Colibri verde colla coda lunga
2. Colibri minimo della sua grandezza naturale

Description & notes: Hummingbirds. Includes branches they are perched on and an egg. Text describes hummingbirds found in Jamaica. Scientific name: Archilochus colubris [?].

Illustration by Veremondo Rossi



18th century ornithological engraved etching
1 Fregata
2 Paill'encul
3 Grandgosier
4 Fiammingo
5 piccola Isola d'Aves

Description & notes: Frigate bird, paille-en-queue or tropicbird, pelican, flamingo and Aves or Bird Island. Text describes birds of the Caribbean islands. Frigatebird: (perhaps) Fregata magnificens, paille-en-queue or white-tailed tropicbird: Phaeton lepturrus, pelican: (perhaps) Pelecanus occidentalis, and flamingo: Phoenicopteridae ruber ruber (or the Caribbean flamingo). Image derived from Jean Baptiste Labat, 'Nouveau Voyages', Paris, 1722.

Illustrator not named



1. Aspetto della Montagna dello Zolfo 2 Uccello Diavolo
1. Aspetto della Montagna dello Zolfo
2 Uccello Diavolo

Description & notes: View of a sulfur mountain or volcano with two black men. Also includes a crow or raven and two dogs. Text discusses the mountain described by Labat and found in Guadeloupe.

Illustrated by Giuseppe Maria Terreni

{All the images above have been lightly spot-cleaned in the background. 
The descriptions/notes below the images are essentially quoted from the source website.
See the first comment below for proposed species identification corrections.}


The full title of the original 3-volume series, published in London in 1762, for J Millar and J&R Tonson, is:
'The American Gazetteer : containing a distinct account of all the parts of the new world, their situation, climate, soil, produce, former and present condition, commodities, manufactures and commerce; together with an accurate account of the cities, towns, ports, bays, rivers, lakes, mountains, passes and fortifications; the whole intended to exhibit the present state of things in that part of the globe, and the views and interests of the several powers who have possessions in America'.
The series is a geographical dictionary or perhaps, more correctly, an encylopaedia of the Americas and I recommend reading some sample paragraphs or pages: the language is wonderful, if dated.

In 1763 the books were translated into Italian and published in Livorno (by Marco Coltellini) as the first complete geographical description of the New World. More than seventy etched engravings of wildlife were added to the few maps that had been published in the first edition. It is the quality of some of the illustrations (the buzzard, pelican and toucan plates above, for instance) that mark this edition as a work of particular distinction.

I noted copies of 'Il Gazzettiere Americano' selling for £2500 this year, but didn't see any sales of the original edition in English in the recent past. I get the feeling that the Italian publication has a better, or more significant, reputation because of the greater range and quality of illustrations.

3 comments :

Rick Wright said...

NEat stuff--I hadn't known this book, so many thanks.
The "king of the vultures" is in fact the King Vulture. (I'll let you look up the scientific names--)
The "North American penguin" is the Great Auk.
The "arctic frigatebird" is the Long-tailed Jaeger.
The "great Hudson Bay crane" is the Whooping Crane.
The hummingbird is the Ruby=throated Hummingbird.
The "North American gray heron" is the Great Blue Heron.
The "arctic bird, thought to be the female," is an unidentifiable jaeger Stercorarius sp.
if the two hummingbirds are from Jamaica, they are Jamaican Streamertail and probably Vervain Hummingbird.

peacay said...

Ha! Many thanks for the corrections Rick. You can see why I state for the record that the descriptions come from Brown U. No doubt compiling the bibliographic details is an arduous task at the best of times.

elmsley rose said...

That second bird (buzzard/vulture) went straight up on my Grotesques/Beasts Pinterest board!
Thanks for providing text to go into each Pin, btw.

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