Published in paralell text in Latin and German, the work is also titled, and more commonly known as, 'Monographie der Spinnen'. Our copy appears to be unusual in that the Latin text appears ahead of the German on the title page or wrapper at the front of the text.

This scientific work on spiders consists of eight parts in one volume authored and illustrated by natural historian Carl Wilhelm Hahn (1786-1835?). Hahn was born in Weingartsgrueth, Upper Franconia, and was educated at the grammar school and university in Erlangen, where he developed an interest in natural history. He moved to Nuremberg in 1819 as he thought a town with more illustrators and a lithographic press would benefit his publishing endeavours. This is also when he began work on 'Monographia Aranearum'. The work was based on his own collection of spiders as well as important public and private collections throughout Bavaria.

'Monographia Aranearum' was published in Nuremberg by Lechner 1820-1836. Hahn planned to publish twelve parts in monthly instalments. Each part was to include four plates, with the twelfth instalment to comprise a detailed text. In the end, only eight parts were produced over a period of sixteen years. Hahn ceased his editorial role in the work after the fifth instalment, due to a dispute with Lechner. The following instalments are still thought to be Hahn's work, although the material was used without his consent.

Physical Description

14 numbered pages with 32 leaves of plates; 26 cm. Half bound in green leather and blue buckram. Marbled endpapers and edges of block. Wove papers, blue coloured paper used for title page, perhaps constructed from original wrappers as part of the binding process. Letterpress with hand-coloured lithographic plates. A small printed note bound in on laid paper follows the first section. Laid paper sheets added in as interleaving for plates.


This rare book about spiders by Carl Wilhelm Hahn was the first German monograph to focus exclusively on the subject of arachnology, reflecting a general shift in the 19th century towards scientific specialisation. With the exception of Charles Athanase Walckenaer's 'Histoire Naturelle des Araneides' (1806), 'Monographia Aranearum' appears to be one of the first works to treat spiders separately from the study of insects. The work described nine species for the first time and contains a number of well executed and accurate illustrations.

The technique of lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in Bavaria in 1798, however it did not immediately dominate in the production of natural history texts, and this seems to be an early example of its use in this field. The method of lithographic printing changed from stone to zinc prior to the sixth instalment, which is another example of technical innovation associated with this work.

Few complete copies of 'Monographia Aranearum' have survived, and the copy held in the Museums Victoria Library appears to be the only copy in a public collection in Australia.

This title was an early purchase by Professor McCoy for the National Museum of Victoria. Hahn published ten titles in his lifetime, of which the Museums Victoria Library holds four.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Rare Books

  • Author

    Carl W. Hahn, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

  • Purchaser of Item Depicted

    Prof Frederick McCoy - University of Melbourne (The), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  • Inscriptions

    Possibly signed in brown ink after forward by author, and then some sections of text crossed out and another signature afterwards in brown ink in the first section. 'E' in pencil at top left of title page along with the stamp of the National Museum Melbourne. 1820 written in ink beneath publisher name.

  • Category


  • Discipline

    Rare Books

  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions - Closed

    210 mm (Width), 19 mm (Depth), 267 mm (Height)

  • References

    Online version via BHL: [Link 1] Brignoli, Paolo Marcello 1985 'On the correct dates of publication of the arachnid taxa described in some works by C. W. Hahn and C. L. Koch (Arachnida)', Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society, vol. 6. Sacher, Peter 1988 'Commentary' in Hahn, Carl Wilhelm, Monographie der spinnen (1820-1836), Leipzig, Zentralantiquariat der DDR. Steinberg, S. H. 1996 Five Hundred Years of Printing, London : New Castle, Del : British Library ; Oak Knoll Press,

  • Keywords

    Natural history literature, Scientific illustration, Spiders, Arachnida, Zoology