collections

The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)

A selection of woodcuts from a book entitled The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents, published in 1658. Most of this three-volume compilation is comprised of the zoological works of the English clergyman Edward Topsell who published several books on religion and other matters during his lifetime. A whole host of animals are represented in Topsell’s illustrations, all of which which came directly from earlier works by the Swiss physician, naturalist, and author Konrad Gesner. Amongst the usual suspects there are also more unusual mythical specimens, such as the “Hydra,” with two claws, a curled serpent’s tail, and seven small mammalian heads; the “Lamia,” with a cat-like body, hooves on the hind feet, claws on the front, and a human woman’s face and hair; and the “Mantichora,” with a lion’s body and mane, a man’s face and head of hair, and a grotesquely smiling mouth.

See also our post in the Books collection for a browse through the whole book.

Beaver

Ape

Bear

Badger

Scythian Wolf

Hydra

Bear Ape Arctopithecus

Winged Dragon

Arabian or Egyptian Land Crocodile

Boa

Sagoin, called Galeopithecus

Unicorn

A wilde beaste in the New Found World called SU

Squirrel

Spinga or Sphinx

Dormouse

The mole or want

Satyre

Lion

Lamia

Ichneumon

Mantichora

Cepus or Martime monkey

Aegopithecus

Man Ape

Porcuspine or Porcupine

Camelopardals

Prasyan Apes

Cat

Another Monster