Shaw’s Museum Leverianum Mammal Prints 1792

While our images are electronically watermarked, the antique prints themselves are not.

Ichneumon SHM163 $165
Each print measures approximately 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches.

We often consider the far-reaching appeal of the beautiful and increasingly scarce prints we collect and sell. They emerged at a time of scientific exploration and growth, when the adventurous were not only searching the globe for new species, but tremendous advances were being made in technology to render prints and books affordable to the general population – not just the uber-wealthy and the monasteries that created the first hand-lettered books.

Curtis Botanical Magazine, started in 1787, typifies this trend, as it was always intended to be a work for the people. Curtis was eager to make his publication popular with the general public after the dismal financial failure of his first work, Flora Londinensis.

All the hand-colored early works are becoming increasingly rare, as we often mention. In fact, the work we proudly present in these pages is so rare that we have never seen it. Nor are there any auction records for it, which indicates that it has not been offered in an auction saleroom for the past 20 years. There is a complete copy of it, all 72 plates, listed on the Internet right now for about $38,000 US. Our copy is a partial set only, found loosely inserted in an old scrap book and we are presenting all but a couple in this listing. For the most part, Shaw’s Museum Leverianum is found only in museum collections, such as the Natural History Museum in London and many Australian museums.

The material for the work came from Sir Ashton Lever’s museum. Starting as a collector of sea shells, Lever grew his collection into 28,000 specimens, including live animals, all housed at his Holophusicon in Leicester Square, London, and open to the public. Shaw catalogued the collection, which so impressed Captain Cook that he donated objects from his famous voyages. Such a ferocious rate of acquisition led to Lever’s bankruptcy and the collection was sold in a public lottery with 8,000 tickets priced at a guinea (1 pound sterling and one shilling) each.

In turn, the winner, James Parkinson, auctioned the collection in 1806. Edward Donovan, another avid collector and publisher of great natural history works, including Donovans Repository, 1873, was among the buyers, along with such luminaries as the Imperial Museum of Vienna, the Earl of Derby and William Bullock.

Many of the famous movers and shakers of the small scientific and expedition world were in some way connected with this important museum. Parkinson commissioned George Shaw to produce a work on the museum, entitled Museum Leverianum.

George Shaw (1751-1813) was an Oxford educated English physician, botanist, and man of science. A founder of the Linnaean society, he eventually became Keeper of the Natural History Department at the British Museum. Sadly, the meager pay obliged him to take on other work and the collection suffered. Notably, he authored, along with Frederick Nodder, that wonderfully quirky work The Naturalist’s Miscellany, 1795.

The much rarer and less known Museum Leverianum may be his masterpiece.

Each copper plate print measures about 8 1/2 by 11 inches on thick, watermarked Whatman paper. On some, the gutter plate mark is tight or absent. The original hand coloring is of a striking subtlety and beauty. Many of the illustrations were by Charles Reuben Ryley, an English illustrator and engraver and are now in the Natural History Museum in London. The condition of the prints is good with some toning and it is a rare opportunity to obtain examples of a work which is never seen on the market in its parts but only in museum collections.  The majority of these prints have no text, but a copy of the original title page will be included. We were entranced when we first saw this work and the engravings will be bright stars in any print aficionado's constellation!

References include Jackson’s Dictionary of Bird Artists and Wikipedia.

We accept credit cards & PayPal. Washington state residents pay Washington state sales tax. Shipping for this item is $8.95. Items can be combined to save on postage. Our environment is smoke free. We pack professionally using only new materials. All items are beautifully wrapped and suitable for sending directly as gifts. You may return any item within 7 days if not satisfied. To order, you may call us at 1-888-PANTEEK, fax or email.



Click to Order

Click to Contact

Return to the Prints