Always inspiring (humbling!) to look way, way back, as I work at my desk with a pen and microscope. From the late 1600’s:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/012345/full/news.2010.689/slideshow

I wish I could see this collection in person! Martin Lister’s teenage daughters illustrated his book documenting all shells, the Historiae Conchyliorum.

There are great rare illustrated book collections in many museum libraries around the world. I spent an afternoon with  Redoute’s botanicals and Audubon’s birds at the California Academy of Sciences library (San Francisco, CA, by appointment); and Filoli’s library (in Woodside, CA, also by appointment)– they have a rare copy of the Banks’ Florilegium engravings, from botanical specimens collected on Captain James Cook’s first voyage around the world.

-KA