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‘Diodon Obicularis’, the Prickly Bottlefish – a colour plate from the Bloch Ichthyologie… sold by Venator & Hanstein for €50,000 (£45,000).

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A first French edition of Marcus Elieser Bloch’s Ichthyologie ou histoire générale et particulière des poissons of 1785-97 sold for €50,000 (£45,000) at Venator & Hanstein (23% buyer’s premium) in Cologne on September 21.

The 12 parts bound as three volumes of text and three of plates contained a full complement of 432 engraved and coloured plates, some highlighted in silver.

Only one copy has made more at auction, but the ex- Belgian Royal Library copy sold by Bloomsbury New York in 2010 for $150,000 (then £94,755) as part of the library of US dealer and collector Richard Harris was in a contemporary calf binding bearing the arms of the Duchesse de Berry.

In June Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) offered a set of the first three volumes of 1785-88, presenting 216 plates. On that occasion it failed, but in their September 12 auction, with somewhat lowered expectations, it made £11,600.

That sale also included one of 12 large paper copies of the 1816 first of George Bainbridge’s Fly Fisher’s Guide.

“Coloured with with greater care, and published at two guineas”, as it was described at the time, its eight plates include one of the earlier illustrations of natural looking flies.

It also bore a presentation inscription from the author, but there was some spotting and browning in evidence and, though it sold at £6200, copies of this large paper version have previously made as much as £18,000 (Bonhams, 2006).