De Canibus Britannicis. Joannes Caius. 1570. First Edition of the First English Book about Dogs.


Caius, Joannes, (“Ioannis Caii”; “Johannes Caius”; “Jo. Caii, Angli”; “Kay, John”, pseuds.), 1510-1573. De Canibus Britannicis. De Rariorum Animalium et Stirpium Historia. De Libris Popriis. Londini: per Gulielmum Serefium typographum. Anno. London: 1570. Index. Errata. 3 parts in 1 volume. First Edition of the First English Book About Dogs, folding table in uncut state with full margins, in part I between leaves 10 and 11, woodcut initials, tiny wormhole in first 4 leaves affecting a few letters, one side-note shaved, browning and some stains at beginning and end, 18th century rubbed sheep binding rebacked old style, housed in modern box. Text in Latin.

“Dr. Johannes Caius, [sometimes spelled Ioannis Cali or Iohannes Caius] physician to Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen EIizabeth I, was the second founder of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (1558), and a friend of Conrad Gesner, the eminent German naturalist. This book was the result of a series of letters to Gesner concerning British dogs, and enjoyed constant revision prior to publication and a large number of appearances subsequently.” -Clifford L. B. Hubbard, Luton Central Library Exhibition Catalog, 1968.

“By obtaining a grant in 1564 for the college to have annually the bodies of two malefactors for dissection, Dr. Caius became a pioneer in advancing the study of anatomy.” Some have alledged that Shakespeare’s Dr. Caius in his Merry Wives of Windsor was derived from the author—? Alledged “quotations“ are probably more often taken from the Fleming “translation” than from the original as so few today have any knowledge of the Latin. For a discussions in greater detail of this collector’s item see Gerald Massey’s “First Printed Dog Book“, The Kennel Gazette 70:831 (May 1949), Clifford L. B. Hubbard’s The Literature of British Dogs, q.v., Abraham FIeming’s “translation” of this book titled Of Englishe Dogges, q.v., Ash’s Dogs, Their History and Development, q.v., etc.

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