I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life,To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife… John Masefield


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The Whale Book: Whales and Other Marine Animals As Described by Adriaen Coenen in 1585  Adriaen Coenen ; edited with an introduction by Florike Egmond and Peter Mason with commentaries by Kees Lankester  London : Reaktion, 2003  Oversized Folio Bound Hardcover.  Translated from the Dutch. xv, 208 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), facsims, maps ; 22cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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In the late 16th century, Dutch beachcomber Adriaen Coenen scanned the beaches of Holland for interesting marine material and produced several illustrated manuscripts of his findings, covering anything from the commonplace herring to the exotic moonfish. Coenen’s work contains the earliest European pictures of whales, naïve but easily identifiable, which makes it a rare visual and textual source for the natural world of his day.

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The Whale Book offers a representative selection of more than 100 pages from Coenen’s manuscripts that deal mainly, though not exclusively, with whales. Coenen’s charming, lively watercolors are reproduced in color alongside translations of his texts, and both are accompanied by modern marine-biological identifications and observations that amplify and explain his work, setting it within the wider context of this period in Northern European history.

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The Whale Book will appeal to all those interested in the natural world and the preservation of threatened marine wildlife, as well as those active in the fields of cultural history, art and the natural sciences. In addition, readers will gain unexpected insights into the experiences of an everyday figure caught up in the events of a turbulent period in Dutch history.

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