SCIENCES

Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library

Sterling Signature. 2012. 163p. illus. ed. by . ISBN 9781402791499. $50. NAT HIST
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Baione (dir., American Museum of Natural History Lib.) examines book illustrations found in the library of New York City's American Museum of Natural History. The volume also gathers 40 essays written by the museum's librarians, researchers, curators, and administrators. They discuss woodcuts, etchings, engravings, and lithographs from books published between the 16th and early 20th centuries on topics in the natural sciences. The book presents many full-page, color reproductions of illustrations of insects, sea animals, birds, and mammals, accompanied by historical descriptions. Also included is a 19th-century astronomical atlas and a collection of portraits of Native Americans. The museum has published many books that discuss its collections, the most comprehensive being Lyle Rexer and Rachel Klein's American Museum of Natural History: 125 Years of Expedition and Discovery; however, Baione's is the first to focus on book illustrations. It is packaged with 40 frameable prints.
VERDICT Combining well-chosen reproductions and interesting essays, this book would be a great choice for readers of National Geographic and the like.

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