London: John Murray, 1857.
New Edition. Hardcover. A fearsome spider (Epeira diadema) suspends herself by a thread from a row of thorns on the front cover of this fascinating collection of observations on the materials and techniques insects use to build their homes, from eggs and cocoons to webs, nests, and hives, by Scottish naturalist James Rennie (1787-1867), thoroughly and intricately illustrated throughout in 196 figures. There is much to learn from "insect architecture," for, as the author writes in his introduction: "The spider weaves his curious web in our houses; the caterpillar constructs his silken cell in our gardens; the wasp that hovers over our food has a nest not far removed from us, which she has assisted to build with the nicest art; the beetle that crawls across our path is also an ingenious and laborious mechanic....and the moth that eats into our clothes has something to plead for our pity, for he came, like us, naked into the world, and he has destroyed our garments, not in malice or wantoness, but that he may clothe himself with the same wool which we have stripped from the sheep....some dig holes in the earth, and form them into cells; others build nests of extraneous substances, such as bits of wood and leaves; others roll up leaves into cases, which the close with the most curious art; others build a house of mud, and line it with the cotton of trees, or the petals of the most delicate flowers; others construct cells, of secretions from their own bodies; others form cocoons, in which they undergo their transformation; and others dig subterranean galleries, which, in their complexity of arrangement, in solidity, and in complete adaptation to their purposes, vie with the cities of civilized man."
7 3/8" X 5". xii, 452pp, plus 32pp ads. Bound in full emerald green silk moire cloth over boards, with spider dangling from a thorned stem stamped in bright gilt to upper board and spine lettered in kind. MIld wear to binding, with corners turned in, gentle bumping to head and tail of spine, lean to spine, and light soiling to cloth, including small stain to upper board. Previous owner's name to front free endpaper. Bookseller's ticket of W. Woodhead Stationer and Bookseller of Bradford to front pastedown. Binder's ticket of Edmonds & Remnants of London to rear pastedown. Text block is a touch shakenm, with first few gatherings rather proud. Binding remains sound. Light foxing and occasional smudges to pages throughout, else unmarked. Illustrated in 196 figures throughout. Good +. Item #13770