17 June 2008
HUMBOLDT, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von (1769-1859). Kosmos, Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung. Stuttgart and Tbingen: J.G. Cotta, 1845-1862 [text]; Stuttgart: Krais & Hoffman (n.d.) [atlas].
5 volumes and atlas. 8o (196 x 127 mm); Atlas: oblong 4o (270 x 300 mm). 39 hand-colored lithographs, 3 steel-engravings, text illustrations [atlas] (some spotting, small marginal tear plate 19). (Some spotting.) Contemporary green calf, gilt, red lettering-pieces (some minor rubbing); contemporary green morocco, gilt (head and foot of spine and corners rubbed). Provenance: discreet contemporary German signature.
FIRST EDITION. "One of the last really comprehensive physical surveys ever to be attempted" (PMM). Humboldt's last and most important work, which occupied the last 30 years of his life, and of which volume 5 was published posthumously from his notes. This ambitious work was intended, as Humboldt described it, to "represent in one work the whole material world, everything we know today of the phenomena in the celestial spaces and of life on earth, from the nebulae to the geography of mosses on granite rocks..." Volumes one and 2 were extremely popular on publication, although Volumes 3 and 4, which contained the author's special research findings, were less immediately successful. Volume 5 contains an index prepared to Humboldt's directions, citing over 9000 of the sources he drew upon, making the work an important reference for the history of science. PMM 320; Norman 1112. (6)
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