The American Museum of Natural History has a Rare Book Collection comprising over 450,000 volumes. Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library gives you just a taste of what is held – and it is a gorgeous taste.
Several of us here at the bookshop have our beady, covetous eyes upon it for our own bookshelves and walls – it is a fascinating book of forty essays (and over 200 illustrations) by the museum’s top experts in a variety of natural science disciplines, from anthropology to zoology, about some of the museum’s rarest, most valuable and most beautiful illustrated books – the ones you usually don’t get to see, they are so delicate and protected.
As always with these treasures from various ages of exploration, it is amazing to think of the artists and scientists drawing or describing animals, things and people they have never seen before for people who will probably never see the original from which the image is taken.
The book comes in a useful box, which also has forty ready-to-frame prints of some of the most amazing images from the books! It is a stunning production, the prints are very beautiful, and the essays are by turns fascinating and entertaining.