An autograph letter by famous 18th century Welsh naturalist, traveller and writer Thomas Pennant sold for £800 at a leading Shropshire fine art auction house last week.
Sent from his home at Downing Hall, near Whitford, Flintshire on September 22, 1767, the letter sold to a Welsh buyer at Halls Fine Art’s books, coins and stamps auction in Shrewsbury.
The letter thanked an unnamed correspondent for permission to use his engravings of birds which, he wrote, would be acknowledged “in the appendix of the old edition of the Zoology which will appear this winter’.
Thomas (1726-98) was one of the foremost zoologists of his time. His highly acclaimed books included ‘British Zoology’ (1766) which stimulated zoological research, particularly in ornithology, in Great Britain, ‘History of Quadrupeds’ (1781) and two volumes of ‘Arctic Zoology’ (1784–85).
His travel books presented valuable information on the local customs, natural history, and antiquities of Scotland, Wales, England and the European continent.
As a naturalist he was curious about the geography, geology, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around him, recording what he saw and heard about.
He knew and corresponded with many of the scientific figures of his day, his books influencing Samuel Johnson. He also amassed a considerable collection of art and other works, many of which are now at the National Library of Wales.
The autograph letter by famous 18th century Welsh naturalist, traveller and writer Thomas Pennant which sold for £800.