9 - 10 April 2013
BELON du Mans, Pierre. L'histoire de la nature des oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions, & naïfs portraicts retirez du naturel. Paris: Guillaume Cavellat, 1555.
7 parts in one volume, 2o (338 x 224 mm). Hand-colored woodcut printer's device on title and six sectional titles, woodcut portrait of Belon on title verso, two woodcuts of human and bird skeletons and 158 large woodcuts in text of birds by Pierre Gourdelle and others, numerous 11-line and smaller ornamental woodcut initials and head-pieces. (Minor marginal dampstaining and light marginal worming.) 18th-century half calf (upper joint starting, light worming to upper cover, some light rubbing). Provenance: acquired from George Staack, 1963.
FIRST EDITION, Cavellat issue. One of the first ornithological texts based on direct observation and illustrated from original drawings. "Belon described approximately 230 species (including the bat), most of them European, but including some foreign species observed from his sojourns in Asia Minor and Egypt" (Norman). Though much of this work is based on Aristotle and Pliny, Belon provided many novel observations as to the appearance, habits and distribution of birds. In addition, he made an important and original contribution to comparative anatomy by comparing in detail the skeletons of birds and man and showing them to be fundamentally identical in structure. Anker pp. 9-10; BM/STC French p. 46; Garrison-Morton 283 (Cavellat issue); Mortimer French 50; Nissen IVB 86; Norman 180.
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