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Natural History Art, Sea Shells, Martini & Chemnitz, Antique Prints, Germany, 18th Century

Friederich Heinrich Wilhelm Martini (1729-1780) and Johann Hieronymus Chemnitz (1730-1800) (editors)
A.F. Happe, Krüger, J.S. Leitner, Nüssbiegel, Scheidl, F. Ant, J.P. Degen, et al. (after)
V. Bischoff, J.C. Bock, C.B. Glassbach, L.S. Leutner, J. Nussbiegel, V. Vogel, et al. (engravers)
Natural History Studies of Shells
from Neues Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet
[New Systematic Collector’s Cabinet of Shells]

G.N. Raspe, Nuremberg: 1769-1795, 1829
Hand-colored engravings
9.5 x 7 inches, platemark (average approximate)
11.5 x 9.25 inches, overall (average approximate)
Scallops: $650 each
Other Shells: $400 each
Twelve engravings shown here. More are available; please inquire.

Natural history studies of a variety of seashells from a pioneering natural history encyclopedia of shells. They are arranged as collections by species against a white background, some casting small shadows. The compositions combine scientific observation and aesthetic appreciation of the lively interplay of the natural colors, patterns, textures, and shapes of the shells, often highlighted by symmetrical arrangements.

Product description continues below.


Friedrich Wilhelm Martini was a Hamburg physician and conchologist. After studying theology at the University of Jena, he switched to medicine and obtained his doctorate from the University of Frankfurt. He practiced medicine in Artern from 1758 to 1764 and thereafter in Berlin. With other scholars, he founded a scholarly journal for pharmacology, economics and natural history. In 1773, he founded the Berlin Society of Friends of Natural Science.

Martini aspired to produce a comprehensive compendium of every known shell. In 1769, he began publishing Neues Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet, the first large-scale iconography of shells. This work illustrated the specimens in major shell collections from collector’s cabinets, including his own. Among the other collections represented in this work were those of King Frederic V of Denmark, the Danish statesman Count Adam Gottlob Molke, Dutch zoologist and collector Albertus Seba, the conchologists Johann Friedrich Bolten and Johann Samuel Schröter, Madame de Blandeville, Abraham Gevers, and the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Martini died after the third volume was published. The work was carried on by Johann Hieronymus Chemnitz, a Danish clergyman, who added eight volumes between 1779 and 1795, which included some shells from his own collection. A supplemental twelfth volume was published by G.H. Schubert & J.A. Wagner in 1829.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear.


Dance, S. Peter. A History of Shell Collecting. Rev. ed. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986.

“Friedrich Martini.” Wikipedia. 28 September 2014. (27 October 2014).

Nissen, Claus. Die Zoologische Buchillustration: ihre Bibliographie und Geschichte. Stuttgart: 1969-78. 2722.

Additional information


18th Century