early american natural history

About the Originals:


At Crystal Bridges

Many of the originals of the book plates referenced in this site are found at the Crystal Bridges Museum Library, where some can be viewed upon request by contacting library@crystalbridges.org.


In addition, works from a number of the American painters mentioned are on display in the Crystal Bridges Collection.


To visit Crystal Bridges with a classroom, contact the Crystal Bridges Education Department.



Digital facsimiles of many of the originals were accessed through:


Biodiversity Heritage Library

Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands at the UNC Library

The Library of Congress



A precious — mouldering pleasure — 'tis —

—Emily Dickinson


A precious — mouldering pleasure — 'tis —

To meet an Antique Book —

In just the Dress his Century wore —

A privilege — I think —


His venerable Hand to take —

And warming in our own —

A passage back — or two — to make —

To Times when he — was young —


His quaint opinions — to inspect —

His thought to ascertain

On Themes concern our mutual mind —

The Literature of Man —


What interested Scholars — most —

What Competitions ran —

When Plato — was a Certainty —

And Sophocles — a Man —


When Sappho — was a living Girl —

And Beatrice wore

The Gown that Dante — deified —

Facts Centuries before


He traverses — familiar —

As One should come to Town —

And tell you all your Dreams — were true —

He lived — where Dreams were born —


His presence is Enchantment —

You beg him not to go —

Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads

And tantalize — just so —





This site  was created through a fellowship from the William Reese Company

and completed through the  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Library