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A Set of eight Hand-Colored Copperplate Engravings of Fish by Marcus Elieser Bloch, Circa 1780.


A Set of eight Hand-Colored Copperplate Engravings of Fish,

by Marcus Elieser Bloch,

Circa 1780.

Bloch issued folio and octavo prints and each specimen was engraved on a copper plate and then hand-colored with watercolors. The plates contain the names of each fish in several languages. (http://www.printdealers.com/artist_template.cfm?id=151)

Marcus Elieser Bloch - The life of an unusual man and respected fish scientist

Summary: Marcus Elieser Bloch was one of the first Jewish medical doctors in Berlin, however, he is still remembered today as famous fish scientist and as one of the most important founders of modern ichthyology. Born in 1723 close to Ansbach in indigent family circumstances and educated traditionally Jewish, he succeeded in liberating from orthodox doctrines and to evolve to a successful physician, natural scientist and representative of the Jewish Enlightenment movement. Today, his famous fish books are not only bibliophile treasures, but they give evidence of the creative power of an unusual man, a friend of Moses Mendelssohn and member of many international academies and scientific associations. He died 1799 in the Bohemian town Karlsbad.

(Lesser, R.  http://www.ichthyologie.de/English/Proceedings/Lesser_/lesser_.html)

Marcus Elieser Bloch (1723 - 1799) was a German medical doctor and naturalist. He is generally considered one of the most important ichthyologists of the 18th century.

Bloch was born in Anspach and practised as a physician in Berlin. He is best known for his encyclopedic work in ichthyology. Between 1782 and 1795 he published his Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische, a 12-volume, beautifully illustrated comprehensive work on fishes. The first three volumes describe fishes in Germany and were entitled Oeconomische Naturgeschichte der Fische Deutschlands, the remaining volumes dealt with fishes from other parts of the world and were entitled Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische.

Bloch's collection of about 1500 specimens is today preserved at the Museum for Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum) of the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Dimensions: 21 1/2 inches x 14 1/2 inches


Scarus Croicensis- Striped Parrotfish (English)

Tetrodon Oblongus- now Fugu Oblongus or Takifugu Oblongus (India)

Tetrodon Rostratus- now Canthigaster Rostrata, or Sharpnose Puffer (USA)

Lutianus Lutianus- Bigeye Snapper (West/Indo Pacific)

Cyprinus Ballerus- Zope (Sweden)

Holocentrus Virecens (West Indies)

Bodianus Pentacanthus

Sciaena Punctata- now Dicentrarchus Punctatus, or Spotted Seabass (Mediterranean)

Spartus Fasciatus

Pleuronectes Limandoides- now Hippoglossoides Platessoides, or American Plaice (Eastern Atlantic)

Reference: American Museum of Natural History


At the age of 47, the German surgeon Marcus Elieser Bloch began to study the fishes of Germany, evidently as a hobby. "Chance gave me an occasion" Bloch remembered, "to apply myself to the study of fishes. Someone sent me a great Maräne, a species of salmon, from Lake Madui. I opened my Linnaeus to read what he said of it. But I saw, to my great astonishment that he had not known of this Maräne "This omission excited my curiosity..." Thus began a productive life of ichthyology. Bloch's 1782 volume, Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische, is considered to be one of the most important in ichthyological literature, even two centuries after its publication. The beautiful hand-colored illustrations below are from this publication.