17 June 2008
CUVIER, Georges L.C., Baron (1769-1832). Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles de Quadrupeds. Paris: Deterville, 1812.
4 volumes, 4o (285 x 205 mm). 155 engraved plates, including folding plates and one hand-colored map (some minor offsetting, one or two spots and a few pale stains). (Lacks blank before plates at the end of volume one, some occasionally heavy spotting, some marginal worm holes at beginning volume of 2, a few short marginal tears.) Contemporary calf, gilt (rebacked preserving the spine, some corners a bit rubbed, inner hinges strengthened). Provenance: some contemporary annotations.
"INAUGURATION OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY" (Grolier/Horblit)
FIRST EDITION, LARGE-PAPER ISSUE on wove paper. "Cuvier was considered by the public to be a bit of a wizard, a man who had brought to life animals that had long since become extinct... Cuvier knew how to make great strides in studying these creatures and could endow this study with new accuracy. His famous paleontological reconstructions had the living being as their point of departure... before witnesses he removed from a stone block the marsupial bones of a small opossum fossil, bones whose existence he had surmised on the basis of the conformation of the visible part of the skeleton. As early as 1804 Cuvier had the idea of reconstructing the musculature of extinct animals from imprints left by the muscles on the bones; then he merely had to imagine the skin over the muscles and the animal was practically brought back to life" (DSB). Some sections misbound. RARE: according to American Book Prices Current only one other large paper issue has appeared at auction in the last thirty years. Grolier/Horblit 20b; Nissen ZBI 1011; Norman 566 (laid paper issue). (4)
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