ALBERTUS SEBA PRINT - Vol. 3 Plate 21 - Coconut Crab
1-2 Birgus latro; 3 Nephrops norvegicus; 4, 9-10 Palaemonidae; 5 Palinuridae; 8 Crangon crangon; 11 Amphipoda
No other work at the beginning of the 18th century offered as comprehensive a survey of the diversity of living things as Albertus Seba’s (1665-1736) Thesaurus. A considerable amount of natural historians and authors have cited the Thesaurus over the centuries (even to this day), with specific references to its illustrations. It’s even influenced a variety of travel accounts, including those of Charles Darwin himself. The vividity with which the Thesaurus presented the specimens, along with a variety of exotic natural habitats, persuaded many other naturalists to join expeditions and subsequently make their own contributions toward the detailed exploration of the world. By the second half of the 19th century, many species had been named after Seba including Oplurus sebae (the Madagascan swift), Python sebae (the African rock python), Polinices sebae (Seba’s moon snail), and a variety of fish.
Seba’s collection of scenic illustrations was one of the 18th century’s greatest natural history achievements. Though scientists of his era usually collected natural specimens for research purposes, the Amsterdam-based apothecary’s collection of vertebrate and invertebrate animals, and plants, garnered international fame during his lifetime. His recognition continued to grow posthumously. After decades of collecting, Seba commissioned illustrations (etched into copper plates) of every specimen and arranged the publication of a four-volume catalogue. The catalogue ended up not only featuring his collection, but also a selection of mythological beasts including the Hydra (Volume 1, Plate 102) based on descriptions and illustrations from earlier, respected natural historians. The complete thesaurus remains one of the most prized natural history publications of all time, with original copies of each volume having recently been sold for $100,000 each. We acquired fifty original, pre-color copies of the original plates, and subsequently produced beautiful prints from them on high-quality, textured paper.
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