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Friday’s Library Snaphot

June 20, 2014

Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum (the wondrous pageant of a tiny world)

From the frontispiece of Historia Naturalis Ranarum Nostrarum by Augustus Johannes Roesel von Rosenhof, with an introduction by Albrecht von Haller. Four species of amphibians are shown in the picture. In the water are two specimens of the Edible-Frog (Rana esculenta), one with inflated air-sacs: immediately above is a darker-coloured Common Frog (R. temporaria), and to the right a Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita) with its typical dorsal stripe.  Hanging down from the top, suspended by one hind leg, is a European Tree-Frog (Hyla  arborea arborea). Climbing up the rose stem to the right and grazing at the butterfly, the rare Mazarine Blue, is a Sand-Lizard (Lacerta agilis). The inscription on the stone is taken from Virgil’s Georgics Book 4, line 3.

This book was published in 1758, and the text is written in both Latin and German. It contains a number of suburb coloured plates illustrating various stages of the species concerned and also their internal anatomy.  There are many such books in the Cole Collection; there are few more beautiful.


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