Friday, January 9, 2015

Sir William Jardine's Naturalist Library

I was feeling like my wall needed some new art, so I stopped in at a gallery on the Upper East Side a few weekends ago to pick up some prints to have matted and framed. The trout and salmon prints are really expensive and harder to find, so I was looking mostly for other stuff. 

However, while I was there I took advantage of the very (unusually) friendly mood they were in and asked to see their first edition copy of Sir William Jardine's Naturalist Library "British Salmonidae" in its original state, large print, and in its full glory! Of course I asked permission to snap a few photos. I didn't have my real camera with me, unfortunately...

To me this is the "holy grail" of antique naturalist books and prints. I found this about Jardine from a book written about him:

"Jardine was a keen sportsman, expert with rod and gun... He was also an amateur artist, working in watercolours, and exhibited, as an honorary member, at the Scottish Royal Academy, as well as other art exhibitions in Dumfries. 

When writing his books, he learned to etch, to draw on wood blocks for wood engraving, to lithograph and to use a variant of lithography called papyrography. One of the finest books of fishes ever printed was Jardine's "The British Salmonidae", for which he did the drawings and etchings himself. 

Jardine was the foremost ichthyologist in Scotland, perhaps even in the United Kingdom, in the nineteenth century. He was a fine fisherman and fished the Annan, which flowed through his grounds in Dumfriesshire, and the best stretches of the Tweed when he lived for three years at St Boswells, Roxburghshire... His reputation as a fly fisherman was well known, and he enjoyed many days of sport with other eminent naturalists such as P.J. Selby, John Gould, Richard Parnall, as well as friends and neighbours. 

His interest in fishing and fisheries led to his appointment as one of the royal commissioners to the Salmon Fisheries Survey of England and Wales in 1860." (Jackson and Davis, "Sir William Jardine. A Life in Natural History", p. X).

I ended up buying a set of 4 dolphins and whales and having them matted. Here's the whale. If you click on the picture it will show up a little larger, and you can see the scene depicted within. Its not just a sketch of the whale, its an "action shot!"

Take some time during the cold months to visit your local antique print shop/book store. And if you see some Jardine Salmon or Trout prints for sale, for goodness sakes, drop me a line!

Stay warm out there this week.


  1. Recently discovered your wonderful blog. As a small stream tenkara angler, I can really identify with your fishing philosophy. Last year I had the good fortune to fish the Neversink(I'm a Midwesterner), and last month fished for wild brookies in Shenandoah NP. I became so enthralled with these native wild fish that I'm returning to Shenandoah again ia a few weeks for some fall color, forest and piscatorial. Aren't we fortunate as fly anglers (an I include tenkara fishers) to have such great rich tradition.

    1. We certainly are fortunate, thanks for taking a look and commenting. Hope you at having a productive early fall on the water!