DENMAN, Thomas

A Collection of Engravings, tending to illustrate the generation and parturition of animals, and of the human species.

London: Sold by J. Johnson… 1787 [but 1790].

Folio, 2 leaves, 2 pages, and 15 unnumbered engraved plates with 15 leaves of text in English and French. Foxing on title and most plates but more severe on 3 plates. Contemporary half calf (spine neatly repaired, sides rubbed), spine gilt and with red morocco label. Bookplates of Thomas Ernest Webb, and of John Studd (1940–2021) who purchased this copy from me in 1984.

FIRST EDITION of this rare suite of very fine plates. The first four show the reproductive organs of the frog, hen, and cow and the eggs of the cuttlefish, and the last eleven depict the human ovum, the foetus and uterus of women who died in childbirth, etc. Denman states that he believes several of the engravings to be the first depiction of their respective subjects. Seven of these plates are from drawings by Jan van Rymsdyck (who did most of the drawings for Jenty’s, Smellie’s, and William Hunter’s great atlases), one of which is the last drawing he is known to have done (according to his biographer John L. Thornton). Others are by various artists, the engraving being mostly done by Skelton, and the stipple-engraving by Knight. The plates are dated variously between 1783 and 1790. Denman used these plates again, incorporating them into the two quarto editions of his Introduction to the practice of midwifery (1801 and 1805), and they were again published separately as his Engravings, representing the Generation of Some Animals (1815). ESTC gives two issues or editions, one with 9 plates, dated 1783 to 1787, and one with 15 plates, as in the present copy, with no copies in the British Isles.


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