The Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)

A Bibliography of Historical Resources

A chronological listing of antiquarian books:
1555. Magnus, Olaus. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus. Rome: n.p. An early pictorial delineation of “Monocerote.”

1558. Gesner, Konrad. Historiæ animalium. Liber IIII. De piscium & aquatilium animantium natura… Zurich: Christof Froshover. P. 247 Woodcut illustration and desciptive text in Latin of the “Monocerotis.”

1582. Paré, Ambrose. Discours D’Ambroise Paré. Paris: Gabriel Buon. Concerns unicorns.

1647. Peyrére, Isaac de la. Relation du Groenland. Paris: Augustin Courbe.

1655. Worm, Olao. Museum Wormianum. Seu historia rerum rariorum… Amsterdam: Ludovic and Daniel Elzevir. The account and figures of the narwhal are from the manuscript of D. Thorlacus Sculonius.

1676. Sachsio, Paolo Ludovico. Monocerologia, seu, de genuinis unicornibus. Raceurgi: Nicolai Nissen. Allen # 109. Scholarly dissertation comparing the narwhal, unicorn and rhinoceros with three plates showing the narwhal skull and tusk as well as shoulder blade, flipper bones, etc.

1676. Vielheuert, Christopher. Grundliche beschreibung frembt. materialien. Leipzig: Berlegts Johann Friksche. Comparative illustration depicting a unicorn and an anatomically approximate narwal or unicornu marinum..

1694. Narborough, Sir John. An account of several late voyages and discoveries to the south and north… also towards Nova Zembla, Greenland or Spitsberg. etc. London: Printed for Sam Smith and Benj. Walford, Printers to the Royal Society. The third part this book is an English translation of the German whaling classic by Friederich Martens, Spitsbergische oder Groenlandische Reise-Beschreibung gethan im Jahr 1671 (Hamburg, 1675). In the Narborough edition there is a supplement with an illustration of a narwhal that does not appear in the original edition of Martens.

1704. Monck, John. An Account of a most dangerous voyage perform’d by the famous Capt. John Monck, in the Years 1619, and 1620…to Hudson’s Straits, in order to discover a passage… to the West Indies. Translated from the High-Dutch Original, printed at Frankford upon the Main, 1650. In: Churchill’s Collection of Voyages and Travels

[1716]. Kräuterman, Valentino. Das in der medicin gebrauchlig ste Regnum Animale oder thiele reich. I. Eine accurate beschrebung aller thiere… II. Ein hochst=dienlicher unterricht… I. Eine vollsommene unmeisung… Frankfurt and Leipzig: Ernst Lugwig Niedtens. Description of the einhorn and the unicornu marinum.

1720. Zorgdrager, Cornelius Gisbert. Bloeijende opkomst der aloud en hedendaagsche Groenlansche visscherij… Uitgebreid met eene korte historische beshrijving der Noordre gewesten voornemelijk Groenlandt, IJslandt, Spitsbergen, Nova-Zembla, Jan Mayen-Eylandt, de Straat Davis, en al taanmerklijkste in de ontdekking deeser landen, en in die visscherij voorgevalen… Amsterdam: Jan Oosterwyk.

1725. A Compleat History of Druggs, written in French by Monsieur Pomet. London: R. and J. Bonwicke and R. Wilkin. Pp. 286-287, “of the Narwal or Sea Unicorn.”

1745. Egede, Hans. A Description of Greenland. London: C. Hitch, S. Austen, J. Jackson. A superbly illustrated book.

1750. Anderson, Johann. Histoire naturelle de l’island du Greenland, du Detroit de Davis, et d’autres pays situes sous le nord. 2 vols. Paris: Michael Lambert.

1767. Crantz, David. The History of Greenland: Containing a Description of the Country and its Inhabitants. 2 vols. London: Brethren’s Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel among the Heathen. 

1789. Bonnaterre, Joseph P. Tableau Encyclopédique et Méthodique des trios Règnes de la Nature… Cetologie. Paris: Panckoucke.

1804. Sonnini, C.S. Histoire naturelle, genérale et particuliere, des cétacéces. Paris: F. Dufart. Pp. 227-251, “les Narwals.”

1805. Gilibert, M.J.E. Abrege du systeme de la nature de Linne, histoire des mammaires ou des quadrupeds et cetacees. Lyon: Chez L’ Editeur, 1805.

[1805.] Lacépède, Bernard G. E. Histoire Naturelle de Cetacees. 2 vols. Paris: Plassan.

[1805]. De Reste, C. Bernard. Histoire des peches, vol. 1. Paris: Nyon.

1807-1821. Rees, Abraham, ed. “Musculus and Mysticetus and Narwal,” Cyclopedia: or, A new universal dictionary of arts and sciences, vol. 25, part 2. Philadelphia: Samuel F. Bradford.

1815. Laing, John, surgeon. An Account of a voyage to Spitzbergen; containing a full description of that country, of the zoology of the North and of the Shetland Isles; with an account of the whale fishery. London: L. Mawman; and Edinburgh: David Brown. P. 135 has a behavioral description of the sea unicorn or Monodon monoceros along with a physical description on pages 144-147. In addition to the London and Edinburgh first edition there appeared an Edinburgh, 1818 and an Edinburgh, 1825 in a smaller format but with the same information.

1820. Scoresby, William, Jr. An account of the Arctic regions, with a history and description of the Northern whale fishery. 2 vols. Edinburgh: A. Constable and Co.

1837. Jardine, William. The naturalist’s library. Mammalia. Vol. VI. On the ordinary cetacea or whales. Edinburgh: W.H. Lizars. A thoroughly accurate rendering of the narwhal, or sea unicorn. A close inspection of the primary image shows two tusks but it is drawn in such a way as to indicate that the second tusk is incidental.