A Natural Selection July 17, 2012 – Tags: Auctions, Book Arts. Publishing, Book Covers, Book Illustration, Book Images, Book Jackets. Books Arts, Books .Manuscripts, illustrators, Natural History, Nature
This complete set of 108 British natural history books sold recently at Bonhams for over $8200. The New Naturalist, containing topics relevant to the British Isles, is arguably one of the most influential natural history series ever published and has been in continual publication by Collins since 1945.
It was first published just after WWII ended and signaled a renewal for the beleaguered Brits at that time. In the editors’ words, it was intended to “recapture the inquiring spirit of the old naturalists” and to foster “the natural pride of the British public in their native fauna and flora”. The first two titles sold more than 30,000 copies each in their first 18 months. In the decades that followed, it became a publishing phenomenon and remains the most successful and longest-running natural history series nearly 70 years later.
Many of the first edition books in this numbered series are highly collectible as many were published in small print runs. In 2009, a set of 14 volumes sold for $11,076 at auction at Christie’s. Displayed below are some of the many beautifully illustrated cover designs by husband-and-wife design team, Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, and Robert Gillmor. You can find many more at the Collins New Naturalists site where they offer signed editions, leatherbound, reprints and even Print on Demand editions. You can also find used copies at Coch-y-Bonddu Books where many of these lovely cover examples were acquired.