LOEWY, Maurice & Pierre Henri PUISEUX. Atlas photographique de la lune ... Héliogravures d'après les clichés et les agrandissements exécutés par M. M. Loewy et Puiseux assistés de M. le Morvan. Paris: Observatoire de Paris, 1896 [1903-04]. 12 atlas vols. bound in 3 2° (710 x 575mm) and 13 text vols. bound in 3 4° (310 x 243mm) together 25 vols. bound in 6. 73 heliograph plates only (of 82 [all published]), of which 70 full-page and numbered I - LXXI (lacking plate XXX), tissue guards with printed key (3 fascicule titles only, of 12, plate V with waterstain at upper margin touching image, plates VII - IX with waterstain at upper margin not affecting image, plates XXV, XXXI - XXXIV and XXXVI - XXXVII lightly dampstained at upper margin, plate XXXV lightly browned, plate XXXIX torn without loss and repaired on verso, plates XLIX - LII and LVI, LVIII and LX lightly stained at lower forecorner, plate LXVIII lightly stained and browned, some other light staining and spotting, a few tissue guards torn and repaired, occasionally with some loss). Later black library cloth lettered in gilt.
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST LARGE SCALE ATLAS OF THE MOON and 'the ultimate achievement of nineteenth-century astronomical photography' which can be regarded, along with Muybridge's Animal Locomotion (1887) and Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian (1907-30) as 'one of the great photographic publishing ventures ... the individual photogravure plates, amongst the largest and finest ever made, are prized by collectors for their sheer aesthetic beauty' (The Photobook). It was only in the 1970s that images substantially better than those of Loewy and Puiseux were obtained. Because perfect weather conditions were needed, the project took 14 years to complete. During this period only 50 or 60 nights per year exhibited the ideal weather conditions, and from those nights suitable for photography only 4 or 5 usable negatives would be produced. The publication of the work in parts over such an extended period has made complete sets very rare; indeed, only one near-complete copy is recorded on ABPC over the last 30 years (lot 117 in Christie's sale of Photobooks, May 18, 2006, sold for £45,000, lacking one text vol.). The Photobook pp.54-55; cf. The Face of the Moon, Galileo to Apollo. An Exhibition of Rare Books and Maps (Kansas City, Linda Hall Library, 1989: 'unequalled as a photographic atlas until 1960 ... the quality of the plates has perhaps never been surpassed'). (6)