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Histoire naturelle de Buffon. Mammifères. Oiseaux. [Atlas].
- Paris, Pourrat Frères, [?1833-1834]. In three volumes. 8vo (22.2 x 14.4 cm). Two title pages, two frontispiece portraits, 327 plates on 325 sheets. Uniform early 19th century embossed calf. Spines rich gilt with floral vignettes, and titles. Gilt monogram on front boards. Marbled endpapers.l These sets of fine, hand-coloured plates form part of Lesson's edition of the "Buffon". "Buffon" in this case is a noun, meaning: book on zoology (in the first half of the 19th century the great majority of French natural history works were modelled after, or based on the works of Buffon, and it was almost obligatory to mention his name in the book title). René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849), who had already published some of the finest illustrated books on birds, starts this edition by closely following Buffon's 18th century original. It is characterized by a superior rendering of the plates, with Prêtre, Traviés and Oudart (arguably among the best natural history illustrators of the 19th century) as principal artists. Following the classic Buffon plates are many new plates. These are from the "Complément ou histoire naturelle des animaux rares découvertes par les naturalistes et les voyageurs depuis la mort de Buffon", including quite a number of Australian mammals and birds, as well as the New Zealand kiwi. Nissen (697), with a query, lists 200 plates, and lists the slightly later edition published by Pourrat and Roret as having 206 plates, viz. 58 mammals and 148 birds. This copy, however, has 128 mammal plates on 126 sheets, and 199 bird plates, far more than in either the "Oeuvres complètes", or the "Complément", which, according to Nissen (2462), should have 122 plates (1828-1830 ed.), or 181 plates (1838-1841 ed.). Given the contemporary bindings and the similar style, this is an unrecorded edition, rather than a mixed edition. Not counted in our total are portraits of Buffon and Lesson, three folded maps of the (then known) world, and plain plates of a furnace, a telescope, a burning glass, and a map of the Auvergne, as well as three plain plates of sperm, and two hand-coloured plates of humans, which were all in imitation of the original Buffon edition. Plate numbering is erratic, and often absent. For instance, in the Mammalia section there are 27 numbers used twice, and seven numbers used three times, 16 plates without a number, and six bis plates. In the mammals, 43 plates have no number, while 27 numbers remained unused. Initials of J.V. on tails of spines and the same initials embossed in gilt on front panels. We strongly believe this to be the naturalist Jules Verraux, who worked as "naturaliste voyageur" for the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris. He travelled to South Africa and Asia to collect specimens. He is considered one of the greatest ornithologists of his time, and many birds, including an eagle, have been named after him by zoologists such as Lesson, Bonaparte, and Grandidier. Three plates in duplicate (second copies not counted). A few plates toned or spotted, the Auvergne-map torn with about a quarter missing, the title pages of oiseaux and mammifères interchanged, otherwise a very good set of what possibly is a very rare edition. Compare Nissen ZBI, 697; 2462. [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Antiquariaat Schierenberg]
Last Found On: 2017-06-14           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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