DON RAMN DE LA SAGRA (1798-1871)
DON RAMN DE LA SAGRA (1798-1871)

DON RAMN DE LA SAGRA (1798-1871)

Historia fisica, politica y natural de la Isla de Cuba. Paris: Librera de Arthus Bertrand, 1839-1856. 12 volumes bound in 11, 2 (403 x 262mm). Letterpress half-titles and titles, 26 lithographic diagrams and maps, 2 folding, 269 engraved plates, 159 hand-coloured, numerous letterpress tables and diagrams. Contemporary green half morocco, spine in five compartments, blocked in gilt in three, lettered in two, the third compartment with monogram cipher of the King of the Belgians blocked in gilt, top edge gilt (extremities lightly rubbed, corners bumped, small area of loss to upper cover of vol. XII). Provenance: Leopold I, King of the Belgians (1790-1865, binding).


The work comprises:
Introduction and first part (2 vols):
Volume I: SAGRA, Ramn de la. Prima parte. Historia fisica y politica. Tomo I. Introduccin, geografia, clima, poblacin, agricultura. Paris: 1842. 11 lithographic diagrams, numerous letterpress tables throughout text.

Volume II: SAGRA. Prima parte. Historia fisica y politica. Tomo II. Comercio martimo. Rentas y gastos, fuerza armada, apndice. Paris: 1842. 2 lithographic diagrams, numerous letterpress tables throughout text; [and:] Prima Parte. Historia natural. Atlas geogrfico. Paris: 1842. 11 single-page and 2 folding lithographic maps.

Natural History, Zoologa (6 vols):
Volume III: SAGRA. Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo III. Mamferos y aves. Paris: 1845. 8 hand-coloured engraved plates by Mason, Corbi, Millot, Davesne, Pardinel, and Breton, after Borrome; [and:] Alcide DESSALINES D'ORBIGNY (1802-1857). Aves. Paris: 1839. 33 hand-coloured engraved plates of birds (2 of eggs).

Volume IV: Jean-Thdore COCTEAU, Gabriel BIBRON (1806-1848), and Alphonse GUICHENOT. Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo IV. Reptiles e pesces. Paris: 1843. 31 hand-coloured engraved plates of reptiles, 5 hand-coloured engraved plates of fish by Gabriel, Bougeard, Legrand, Pierre, Visto, Leu, Massard, Davesne and others, after Prtre.

Volume V: D'ORBIGNY. Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo V. Moluscos.. Paris: 1845. 30 hand-coloured engraved plates and 8 uncoloured engraved plates, by Annedouche, Schmelz, Legrand, Forget, Thomas, and Rebuffet, after Prtre, Delarue, and Levasseur.

Volume VI: D'ORBIGNY. Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo VI. Fosiles. Foraminifras. Paris: 1855. 12 hand-tinted engraved plates, all by H. Legrand after D'Orbigny.

Volumes VII and VIII: Flix-Edouard GURIN-MNEVILLE (1799-1874), Jean-Andr-Henri LUCAS (1780-1825), Pierre-Nicholas-Camille JACQUILIN DU VAL (1828-1862), Baron Michel-Edmond de SELYS-LONGCHAMPS (1813-1900), and Jacques M.F. BIGOT (1818-1893). Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo VII. Crustaceos, aragnides, insectos. Paris: 1856. [And:] Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo VIII. Atlas de Zoologia. Articulata. Paris: 1855. 20 hand-coloured engraved plates by Clerg and Annedouche after Gurin-Mneville, Nicolet, Mignaux, Jacquelin-Duval, and Delarue.

Natural History, Botnica (4 vols):
Volume IX: Jean-Franois-Camille MONTAGNE (1784-1866). Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo IX. Botnica. Cryptogamia. Paris: 1845. 20 hand-coloured engraved plates, by Noiret, Taillant, Davesnes, Annedouche, Legrand, Spelette, Giraud, Baron, Visto, Forget, and Gouff, after Riocreux.

Volume X-XII: Achille RICHARD (1794-1852). Segunda parte. Historia natural. Tomo X.XI.XII. Botnica. Fanerogamia. Paris: 1845-55, 3 volumes. 102 engraved plates by Ple, Mougeot, Noiret, Rebel, Annedouche, Thomas, Davesnes, Guyard, Massard, Giraud, Oudet, Victor, Martin, Visto, Forget, Delorby, Bourgeois, and Victor, after Vauthier.

The present copy is the only complete copy of the original Spanish edition to have appeared at auction in recent years. Collating La Sagra's work appears to have presented considerable difficulties to bibliographers, no doubt due to its rarity: collations given in Palau and Sabin do not agree either with each other or with this copy. Sabin calls for 20 tables, 12 maps and 261 plates (although in the copy he studied, Volume VI had no plates). The present copy, however, corresponds with the collation given by Ripoll of the only complete copy he was able to find (Carlos Ripoll 'La Sagra's Historia', in Revista Interamericana de Bibliografia, XL;3, 1990). Anker, Nissen and Ronsil all had to resort to the French edition for bibliographical descriptions.

A supplement, published in 1861, is also mentioned by Ripoll, but it was not considered integral to the work by Max Urea, the distinguished historian of Cuban letters (Max Urea, Panorama Historico de la Literatura Cubana. New York: Las Americas Publishing Co., 1963, I, p. 372). All commentators, however, agree upon the importance and rarity of the Spanish edition. La Sagra himself complained of the difficulties he encountered in supplying complete copies from the 190 parts issued over a period of twenty years: 'The copies that the [Cuban] government generously procured in order to protect them were, for the most part, incompletely distributed. Those who had taken subscriptions in the Island grew weary of waiting for the end of such a protracted, slow, and irregular process of publication. And of the copies I had reserved for myself, only very few could be completed, since a lot were lost in the warehouses of the editors during the long years that were required to finish the publication' (Ripoll, p. 422). Indeed, even 'the greatest part of the [300] copies ordered by the government had been burnt or lost' (ibid.).
In recent decades, these losses have been commented upon with deep regret. Jorge Aguayo, who published the definitive study of La Sagra's Historia in 1946, wrote that it was 'the most complete and important work of its kind, and that the Spanish edition is now one of the most difficult works to find in perfect condition' (ibid., p. 423). 'La Sagra's Historia may be considered the most valuable possession for any collection specialising in Cuba and the Caribbean.' (ibid., p. 426).

Palau 284796; Sabin C. 74921; Anker Bird Books and Bird Art 383 (French edition); Nissen BBI 1713, VBI 697 (French edition, ZBI 3547; Ronsil 2671 (French edition); BMC (Nat. Hist.) p. 1,781; Stafleu & Cowen 10000; Wood p. 547. (11)

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