Monograph of Spiders

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monograph of Spiders





Lycosa Tarantula




Thomisus a

Thomisus b

Mygale Plantigrades a


Mygale Plantigrades


Attus saltatoriae

Thomisus Cancroides

Carl Wilhelm Hahn (1786-1835) was a German zoologist and artist. Following a short stint in the armed services, Hahn completed a PhD and took the unusual step of setting himself up as 'freelance natural historian'.

Biographical details are in short supply but it appears Hahn was at least acquainted with the leading naturalists from Nuremberg and his most important early work involved preparing an ornithological publication on bird species from America, Asia and Africa. It is probable that Hahn contributed artwork to a number of books on insects, spiders and birds.

Hahn's most significant publication was the dual-titled 'Monographie der Spinnen / Monographia Aranearum' (Monograph of Spiders) which was issued in instalments between 1820 and 1836. Of the eight or so (near-) complete copies of this work in the world that have survived, none is apparently a definitive version. The history of the publishing is complicated, involving a change in printers following a quarrel, a small number of subscribers, unauthorised episode issues and, when combined with a sixteen year period of publication, the scarcity of complete works becomes understandable.

'Monographie der Spinnen' was the first ever German monograph on spiders and one of the earliest publications anywhere devoted solely to spiders. Hahn provided the original descriptions of a number of previously unknown spider species together with accurate illustrations, so the work is regarded not only as an important historical scientific document, but is still cited today as a primary source in the field of arachnology.

[Nb. The title tags for the above illustrations were taken from the illustration plates but aren't necessarily consistent or accurate in the 'naming sense'. They were simply chosen quickly to distinguish between the images.]

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