Hammerhead shark (called ‘The Balance Fish’ in the English version of the caption) from a copy of Bloch’s Ichthyologie sold at Christie’s NY for $80,000 (£62,990).

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Bid to $80,000 (£62,990) at Christie’s New York (25/20/13.5% buyer’s premium) on June 12, this 12-volume, first French edition – published contemporaneously with the German version – was bound as six volumes in black half morocco gilt and bore the bookplates of the 2nd Marquess of Exeter and the late Sir Jocelyn Stevens.

It had been sold from the latter’s library at Bonhams in 2006, when the price was £36,000.

Many of the colour plates in this work that has been described as “possibly the most beautiful book on fishes ever published” are heightened in gold, silver and bronze to simulate the metallic sheen of fish scales.