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Many are marginal, and in the case of butterflies and moths, painted to show the body and just one wing, but some caterpillars, beetles and birds are seen crawling or hopping across the pages. Fish and shells are also seen in this singular copy of Stewart’s book, which made £20,000 at Sotheby’s on May 8.

Sold for £30,000 in that sale was a special copy of the first colour plate work on butterflies arranged according to the Linnaean system, Cramer & Stoll’s Die Uitlandsche Kapelle voorkomende in de drie Waereld-Deelen Asia, Africa en America of 1782-91. Bound as five volumes in 19th century russia gilt, this copy (formerly in the Earl of Derby’s library at Knowlsley Hall) is interleaved with manuscript notes by the ornithologist John Latham, who has cross referenced Cramer’s specimens with those of other entomologists and gives details of habitats.
Buyer’s premium: 19.5/10 per cent