Antique chromolithograph butterfly plate from Macrolepidoptera of the World, Volume 5, Dr. Adelbert Seitz, Editor. Papilio - Parnassius - Plate 17
The Seitz plates are spectacular examples of scientific illustration and printing from the early 1900s. The use of metallic inks is unusual and makes some plates particularly dynamic. These were printed over a period from 1907 to 1954, with interruptions by two World Wars.
All of these plates will mat and frame handsomely. They measure 9 3/4 " x 13" with a roughly 1 1/4" margin outside the black frame line. They are on a cream paper that is only very slightly edge-toned. Some have bumps that slightly bent an upper corner as noted below. These will not show when matted. These are rare and unusual and are from a set that was assembled over the years from loose pages that were published unbound.
Plate 17 shows butterflies of the genera Papilio and Parnassius. Papilio, the swallowtails, are of worldwide distribution, but Parnassius is restricted to western North America, and we would not have expected this genus to be included in this volume. This plate is particularly well preserved, with a slight bend at upper left that completely disappears when flattened.
Macrolepidoptera of the World was started as a multi-volume multi-year project before 1906. The first volumes were published by Fritz Lehmann in Stuttgart. Lehmann sold the project to Alfred Kernen Verlag, also of Stuttgart. When Kernen died in 1924 his son Otto took over the publishing house. Kernen is often cited as the publisher, with no mention of Lehmann. Editions in German and English were published by both Lehman and Kernen. A French edition was published by Le Moult in Paris and never completed. Volume 5 is titled Macrolepidoptera of the American Faunistic Region.
Publication was interrupted by two World Wars, ceasing in World War I and taking some time to resume. It was again suspended in World War II, with the stock being moved to a church attic and two barns in the Black Forest. The publishing house was bombed and destroyed in 1944 and the entire project was abandoned in 1954, incomplete, 17 years after Seitz's death.
Publication was originally in separate fascicles, each covering a section of the work as it was completed. These were sent to subscribers in parts, each with sections of of eight pages with one or more color plates. A bound edition of Volume 5, one volume of text and one of 204 plates, was published by Kernen in 1924. This is a rare and still very useful entomological reference.
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