C1789

Port Jackson Shark

Rare First Fleet engraving and description of the Port Jackson Shark. Modern bionomial name: Heterodonthus portusjacksoni First described: Meyer 1793 Distribution: WA, SA, VIC, TAS, NSW, QLD Description from Phillip’s 1789. “PORT JACKSON SHARK. Genus CXXXI. Squalus.–Lin. Syst. Nat. The … Read Full Description

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Details

Full Title:

Port Jackson Shark

Date:

C1789

Condition:

In good condition

Technique:

Copper engraving.

Image Size: 

275mm 
x 220mm

Paper Size: 

278mm 
x 210mm
AUTHENTICITY
Port Jackson Shark - Antique Print from 1789

Genuine antique
dated:

1789

Description:

Rare First Fleet engraving and description of the Port Jackson Shark.

Modern bionomial name: Heterodonthus portusjacksoni
First described: Meyer 1793
Distribution: WA, SA, VIC, TAS, NSW, QLD

Description from Phillip’s 1789. “PORT JACKSON SHARK. Genus CXXXI. Squalus.–Lin. Syst. Nat. The length of the specimen from which the drawing was taken, is two feet and it is about five inches and an half over at the broadest part, from thence tapering to the tail: the skin is rough, and the colour, in general, brown, palest on the under parts: over the eyes on each side is a prominence, or long ridge, of about three inches under the middle of which the eyes are placed: the teeth are very numerous, there being at least ten or eleven rows the forward teeth are small and sharp, but as they are placed more backward, they become more blunt and larger, and several rows are quite flat at top, forming a kind of bony palate, somewhat like that of the Wolf-fish differing, however, in shape, being more inclined to square than round, which they are in that fish: the under jaw is furnished much in the same manner as the upper: the breathing holes are five in number, as is usual in the genus: on the back are two fins, and before each stands a strong spine, much as in the Prickly Hound, or Dog, fish: it has also two pectoral, and two ventral fins but besides these, there is likewise an anal fin, placed at a middle distance between the last and the tail: the tail itself, is as it were divided, the upper part much longer than the under. At first sight, the above might be taken for the Prickly Hound-fish, or Squalus Spinax of Linnoeus, of which a good figure may be seen in Willughby’s Icthyol. Tab. B. 5. f. 1, but it differs, first, in having the prominent ridge over the eyes, of a great length secondly, in the formation of the teeth thirdly, in having an anal fin, of which the Prickly Hound is destitute all these circumstances concur to prove it a new species. This was taken at Port Jackson, but to what size it may usually arrive cannot be determined perhaps not to a great one, as the teeth appear very complete. Some sharks, however, of an enormous size have been seen and caught thereabouts, though of what sort cannot here be determined.”

From Governor Phillips, Voyage to Botany Bay.

References:
Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976 47.
Wantrup, J. Australian Rare Books. Sydney 1987 #5. pp.59-64, pp.127-128, p.345-5, ill. p.63.
McCormick, T. First Views of Australia 1788-1825. Sydney 1987.

Collections:
State Library Victoria: RARELTF 994.02 P54V
National Gallery Victoria: Bib ID 1807715
British Library London: Shelfmark: C.47.i.10.
Royal Collection Trust UK: RCIN 1142204

Peter Mazell (1759 - 1797)

Mazell was an Irish painter and engraver, working in London between c. 1761 and 1797. He is known for his fine engravings of natural history subjects, especially those illustrating books by John Walcott and the Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant. He created almost 600 engravings in his career. He also exhibited paintings of landscapes and of flowers. He exhibited at the Society of Artists and at the Royal Academy.

View other items by Peter Mazell

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