DE BESTIIS MARINIS. [Contained in:] NOVI COMENTARII ACADEMIAE SCIENTARIUM IMPERIALIS PETROPOLITANAE TOM. II.

St. Petersburg. 1751. [1],471pp. plus eighteen plates. Large quarto. Contemporary mottled calf, strongly rebacked with original ornately gilt spine laid down. Boards rubbed, edges and corners worn. 20th-century bookplate on front pastedown, contemporary institutional ink stamp on front free endpaper. Light tanning, occasional spotting. Very good. Item #WRCAM54210

Steller was the naturalist on Vitus Bering's second voyage. He wrote this essay, which describes the six North American animal species he discovered on the voyage (five of which are now extinct or severely endangered) while the expedition wintered on what would become Bering Island, where Bering and half the crew died of scurvy. The manatee described here and named after him was hunted to extinction within thirty years of Steller's discovery - its only habitat was unfortunately close to the sea route charted by Bering and quickly exploited by fur traders and seal hunters. Three of the plates bound at the rear are the first representations of Steller's sea cow. The text was edited by Gerhard Friedrich Müller after Steller's untimely death, when he was jailed for fomenting rebellion in Kamchatka and succumbed to a fever upon his release. Steller's essay appears in this volume on pages 289-398; other contributors include Euler on Fermat’s theorem, Kratzenstein on navigation and the perpetual clock, and Lomonosov on the anemometer. An exceedingly scarce early work on Alaska, having only appeared once at auction, at the Martin Greene sale, where it brought $17,500. LADA-MOCARSKI 4. WICKERSHAM 6118.

Price: $15,000.00

The First Naturalist in Alaska