Interesting historical fact.
This engraving, of a flying fish, almost changed the course of history. It is one of a set from John Ray’s and Francis Willughby’s book“Historia Piscium”, published in 1686 by the Royal Society and recently put online by them for the edification of scholars everywhere. The society, which today proudly describes itself as the world’s oldest scientific academy (it was founded in 1660), was almost bankrupted by the expense of the high-quality illustrations in what was regarded at the time as a leading natural-history text, but which unfortunately failed to sell as well as its publishers had hoped. As a result, no money was left over for another publication, “Principia Mathematica”, by Isaac Newton. That the most important volume in the history of physics, which described the laws of motion and of gravity, saw the light of day the next year was, in the end, due to the deep pockets of Edmund Halley, of comet fame. Halley was the son of a wealthy soapmaker and he stumped up much of the cost himself.