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Banks, Sarah Sophia, 1744–1818

Sir Joseph Banks's fishery book of the River Witham in Lincolnshire.

Additional Title(s):

Fishery book

Lincolnshire, 1784-1800.
Physical Description:
2 v. ; ill. ; 22 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
SH437 .B36 1784
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Sir Joseph Banks was a renowned British naturalist, patron of the natural sciences, and president of the Royal Society from 1778 until his death in 1820. His sister, Sarah Sophia Banks, lived with Sir Banks and Lady Banks for her entire adult life and shared her brother's great interest in natural history. She was also an avid collector of coins, medals, and printed ephemera (her collection of over twenty thousand items is now in the British Museum).
Binder's title: Fishery book.
With the bookplate of William A. Cragg. Notes and catalog clippings on the preliminaries to v. 1 record the provenance of the item, including: Sir Wyndham Knatchbull; Edward Stanhope; Richard Philip Stanhope; Lady Beryl Stanhope (Gilbert); William A. Cragg.
Bound in contemporary gilt-tooled tree calf.
Of green leaf, bird, and flower: artists' books and the natural world, p. 218
Selected exhibitions: "'The Compleat Horseman': Sporting Books from the Bequest of Paul Mellon" (Yale Center for British Art, 17 February-29 April, 2001).
Manuscript describing the fishing parties held between 1784 and 1796 on the river Witham in Lincolnshire convened by Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, together with his family, friends, and neighbors. The text is attributed to Sarah Sophia Banks on p. 395 of Arthur Young's General view of the agriculture of the county of Lincoln. London, 1799. The manuscript is in two volumes; the first records graphic representations of the excursions, with a 13-part map and many watercolor illustrations, while the second records minutes of the fishing parties, noting dates, names, and quantities of fish.
The main part of the first volume begins with an illustrated title page, in blue ink and wash, reading: A map of the River Witham, from Kyme River to the Grand Sluice, intended for the use of the annual fishery, with drawings relative thereto, and views of the most remarkable place in the neighbourhood thereof. W. Brand del. 1795. This is followed by a 13-part map, in pen-and-ink and limited wash, by William Brand, which concludes with an index map. Each segment of the map records a mile-long section of the river, noting the river width (in yards), the neighboring fens, the location of properties, barns, and trees along the river, and the locations of large draws of fish. The map is followed by a series of 29 tipped-in illustrations by several artists, most in watercolor, others in gray wash, depicting points of interest along the river. Each is neatly annotated on the reverse with the name of the artist, an approximate date, and a description of the place or activity illustrated. The illustrations show houses along the river, Joseph Banks's boat (with elaborate awnings), the weighing of fish at Boston after a haul, bank side dinner gatherings, a purse drawn from the river, and a sketch of a pike. Of these illustrations, there are eight by Rev. Robert Chaplin, seven by William Brand, five by Rev. John Wheler, and five by Mr. Batty (i.e. Dr. Robert Batty?). The remainder of the volume contains tipped-in ephemera, including engraved portraits of Sir Joseph Banks, Lady Banks, and Thomas Fydell, and newspaper clippings about notable angling and shooting exploits (with later dates, from 1800 to 1817). The volume ends with an index to the illustrations, with convenient reference to corresponding points on the maps.
The second volume is primarily textual, aside from inserted ephemera and an elaborate watercolor title page (by William Brand) reading: Minute of the annual fishery on the River Witham began MDCCLXXXIV. The minutes consist of 151 pages of neatly recorded information about the annual fishing expeditions, from 1784 to 1796, noting: dates (usually 3 or 4 days in early September); company who dined in the boat (typically from 12 to 30 people); tables showing the quantity, weight, and varieties of fish caught each day, along with the amount of fish dressed for dinner; and brief notes on the weather. The remainder of the volume consists of engraved material pasted in. At the front is a large folded "Table d'une chasse à laquelle a assisté S. Mté. L'Empereur [i.e. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor], faite en Bohême sur les terres ci dessous mentionnées et du gibier qu'on y a tiré, l'année 1753". At the end of the volume are two more engraved portraits of Joseph Banks, one engraving of Tattershall, one engraving of the harbor at Boston, and three engravings of St. Botolph's Church in Boston.
Subject Terms:
Banks, Joseph, 1743-1820.
Banks, Sarah Sophia, 1744-1818.
Boston (England) -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
Cragg, William A. -- Bookplate.
Engraving -- Specimens -- 1784-1800.
Fishing -- England -- Early works to 1800.
Fishing -- Social aspects -- England -- Early works to 1800.
Fydell, Thomas, 1740-1812.
Knatchbull, Wyndham, 1786-1868 -- Provenance.
Lincolnshire (England) -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
Lincolnshire (England) -- Social life and customs -- 18th century.
St. Botolph's Church (Boston, England)
Stanhope, Beryl -- Provenance.
Stanhope, Edward, 1840-1893 -- Provenance.
Stanhope, Richard Philip -- Provenance.
Witham, River (England) -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800.
Witham, River (England) -- Pictorial works -- Early works to 1800.
Landscape drawings.
Travel sketches
Ink drawings.
Wash drawings.
Batty, Robert, 1763?-1849, ill.
Brand, William, active 1789-1802, ill.
Chaplin, Robert, 1758-1837, ill.
Wheeler, John, d. 1818, ill.
IIIF Manifest:

"Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower" : Artists' Books and the Natural World (Yale Center for British Art, May 15, 2014-August 10, 2014) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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