A Tapoa Tafa.

Rare c.18th engraving of a Tapoa tafa which was the aboriginal name used by one of the Sydney tribes for the Brush-tailed phascogale. Common name: Brush-tailed phascogale Modern binomial name: Phascogale tapoatafa (Recent synonyms Phascogale pencillata) First described: Meyer 1793 … Read Full Description


S/N: JOAV-ANI-AA-281–194819
Free Shipping
A Tapoa Tafa. Australian - General

Within Australia

All orders ship free
within Australia
A Tapoa Tafa. Australian - General

Rest of the World

Orders over A$300
ship free worldwide

See Shipping page for Terms & Conditions


Full Title:

A Tapoa Tafa.




In good condition.


Copper engraving with original hand colouring.

Image Size: 

x 120mm

Paper Size: 

x 210mm
A Tapoa Tafa. - Antique Print from 1790

Genuine antique



Rare c.18th engraving of a Tapoa tafa which was the aboriginal name used by one of the Sydney tribes for the Brush-tailed phascogale.

Common name: Brush-tailed phascogale
Modern binomial name: Phascogale tapoatafa (Recent synonyms Phascogale pencillata)
First described: Meyer 1793
Distribution: Australia wide

From Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales.

This animal is the size of a rat, and has very much the appearance of the martin cat, but hardly so long in the body in proportion to its size. ‘The head is flat forwards, and broad from side to side, especially between the eyes and ears the nose is peaked, and projecting beyond the teeth, which makes the upper jaw appear to be considerably longer than the lower the eyes are pretty large the ears broad, especially at their base, not becoming regularly narrower to a point, nor with a very smooth edge, and having a small process on the concave, or inner surface, near to the base. It has long whiskers from the sides of the cheeks, which begin forwards, near the nose, by small and short hairs, and become longer and stronger as they approach the eyes. It has very much the hair of a rat, to which it is similar in colour but near to the setting on of the tail, it is of a lighter brown, forming a broad ring round it. The fore feet are shorter than the hind, but much in the same proportion as those of the rat the hind feet are more flexible. There are five toes on the fore feet, the middle the largest, falling off on each side nearly equally but the fore, or inner toe, is rather shortest: they are thin from side to side, the nails are pretty broad, laterally, and thin at their base not very long but sharp the animal walks on its whole palm, on which there is no hair. The hind feet are pretty long, and have five toes that which answers to our great toe is very short, and has no nail the next is the longest in the whole, falling gradually off to the outer toe the shape of the hind toes is the same as in the fore feet, as are likewise the nails it walks nearly on the whole foot. The tail is long and covered with long hair, but not all of the same colour. The teeth of this creature are different from any other animal yet known. The mouth is full of teeth. The lower jaw narrow in comparison to the upper, more especially backwards, which allows of much broader grinders in this jaw than in the lower, and which occasions the grinders in the upper jaw to project considerably over those in the lower. In the middle the cuspidati oppose one another, the upper piercers, or holders, go behind those of the lower the second class of incisors in the lower jaw overtop those of the upper while the two first in the lower go within, or behind those of the upper. In the upper jaw, before the holders, there are four teeth on each side, three of which are pointed, the point standing on the inner surface and the two in front are longer, stand more obliquely forwards, and appear to be appropriated for a particular use. The holders are a little way behind the last fore teeth, to allow those of the lower jaw to come between. They are pretty long, the cuspidati on each side become longer and larger towards the grinders they are points or cones placed on a broad base. There are four grinders on each side, the middle two the largest, the last the least their base is a triangle of the scalenus kind, or having one angle obtuse and two acute. Their base is composed of two surfaces, an inner and an outer, divided by processes or points: it is the inner that the grinders of the lower jaw oppose, when the mouth is regularly shut. The lower jaw has three fore teeth, or incisors, on each side the first considerably the largest, projecting obliquely forwards the other two of the same kind, but smaller, the last the smallest. The holder in this jaw is not so large as in the upper jaw, and close to the incisors. There are three cuspidati, the middle one the largest, the last the least these are cones standing on their base, but not on the middle, rather on the anterior side. There are four grinders, the two middle the largest, and rather quadrangular, each of which has a high point or cone on the outer edge, with a smaller, and three more diminutive on the inner edge. It is impossible to say, critically, what the various forms of these teeth are adapted for from the general principles of teeth. In the front we have what may divide and tear off behind those, there are holders or destroyers behind the latter, such as will assist in mashing, as the grinders of the lion, and other carnivorous animals and, last of all, grinders, to divide parts into smaller portions, as in the graminivorous tribe: the articulation of the jaw in some degree admits of all those motions.

From John White’s, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales

Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976 97.
Hill, J. The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages. San Diego 1974 1858.
Nissen, C. Die illustrierten Vogelbucher. Stuttgart 1995 ZBI 4390.
Abbey, J.R. Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860. London 1972 605.
Wantrup, J. Australian Rare Books. Sydney 1987 17.
Crittenden, V. A Bibliography Of The First Fleet. ACT 1982 248.

National Library Australia: Bib ID 87340
State Library New South Wales: Call Number: MRB/Q991/2A2
National Gallery Victoria: Accession Number2012.31
State Library Victoria: CCF 919.44 W58
National Museum of Australia: Object number 2007.0035.0001

Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976 :: 97.
Wantrup, J. Australian Rare Books. Sydney 1987 :: 17. p.348, pp.72-73, 274, 288.
Strahan, R. A Dictionary of Australian Mammal Names. Sydney 1981 :: pp. 88-89.
Olsen, P. Upside Down World. Canberra 210 :: p.44, ill.p.44.

Sydney University Library: record=b1288848~S4
Royal Society London: Image reference: RS-10624
National Library Australia: Bib ID 87340
State Library Victoria: RARELTF 919.44 W58
State Library New South Wales: RECORD IDENTIFIER 74VKJ3NqBBQd

Sarah Stone (1760 - 1844)

Known as Sarah Smith or Sarah Stone, she was the daughter of a professional fan painter and worked as a natural history illustrator in England between 1777 and 1820. Like many British artists she never travelled to the Southern Hemisphere, although she is best known for her depictions of Australian subjects. Stone was commissioned by some of the great eighteenth-century collectors, including Sir Ashton Lever and Sir Joseph Banks, to prepare watercolour drawings based on specimens of animals, birds and objects brought back to England by members of recent voyages of exploration. In many cases her drawings were the first studies of certain natural history species, a fact which makes them of considerable scientific interest. Some of her watercolours recording the collections of artefacts and natural history gathered on the voyages of Captain James Cook are among the treasures of the Australian Museum in Sydney and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. As Miss Stone, 'Honorary Exhibitor’, she exhibited four paintings at the Royal Academy in 1781 and 1786: two of birds, a peacock and a group of shells. As Mrs Smith, she showed a perspective view of Sir Ashton Lever’s Museum with the London Society of Artists at Leicester House in 1791 – previously exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1785.

View other items by Sarah Stone

Choose currency

Exchange rates are only indicative. All orders will be processed in Australian dollars. The actual amount charged may vary depending on the exchange rate and conversion fees applied by your credit card issuer.

Account Login

The List

Join our exclusive mailing list for first access to new acquisitions and special offers.