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These shell prints come from Johann Samuel Schröter’s Musei Gottwaldiani testaceorum, stellarum marinarum et coralliorum, published in Nuremberg in 1782. The work illustrates shells, coral, and marine specimens with magnificent detail. These rare and timeless prints would look fantastic framed together in a group.
The copper plates had been engraved almost a century before the publication of this work at the behest of Christophorus Gottwald. Gottwalk was a physician in Danzig who had created one of the largest collection of natural history objects in Germany. It appears that Gottwald had wanted to publish a catalogue of his shell collection, but it never appeared. Many years later the bookseller Raspe obtained the copperplates and commissioned Schröter to write the descriptive text for the work which was published in 1782.
Gottwald’s shell collection was acquired by Peter the Great for the St. Petersburg Museum. Peter the Great also purchased the collections of Ruysch, Seba, and Gottwald’s son, Johann Christoph.
Schröter, a deacon of a parish in Weiman, was a prolific author of books about conchology, minerals, and fossils. In 1779 he published Geschichte der Flussconchylien, a study of river shells. And in 1783, he published a book about the formation and structure of shells.
The prints feature professional hand-coloring applied recently. They are on fine chainlink, watermarked paper measuring approximately 9 1/2″ by 14 1/2″.
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