Mark Catesby Prints

Other Botanical Collections

                                                                                 Plate from Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1731-1743).

Mark Catesby (24 March 1682/83 – 23 December 1749) was an English naturalist. Between 1729 and 1747 Catesby published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America. It included 220 plates of birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals, as well as plants.

Catesby spent the next seventeen years preparing his Natural History. Publication was financed by an interest-free loan from one of the fellows of the Royal Society, the Quaker Peter Collinson. Catesby was the first to use folio-sized colored plates in natural history books. He learned how to etch the plates himself. The first eight plates had no backgrounds, but from then on Catesby included plants with his animals. He completed the first volume in 1731, and in February 1733 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. The second volume was completed in 1743, and in 1746-1747 he produced a supplement from material sent to him by friends in America, particularly John Bartram. Catesby’s original preparatory drawings for “Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands” are in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and a selection was exhibited in USA, Japan and at the Queen’s Gallery, London, in 1997-1998. On 5 March 1747, Catesby read a paper entitled “Of birds of passage” to the Royal Society in London, and he is now recognized as one of the first people to describe bird migration. Mark Catesby married Elizabeth Rowland on 2 October 1747. He died just before Christmas 1749 on Saturday 23 December in his house behind St Luke’s Church, Old Street, London. Catesby’s “Hortus britanno-americanus …” was published posthumously in 1763, and a second edition, entitled “Hortus Europae americanus …” was issued in 1767.
“The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands:containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants: particulary the forest-trees, shrubs, and other plants, not hitherto described, or very incorrectly figured by authors. “     London :printed for C. Marsh 1754.