BRONGNIART, Adolphe-Théodore (1801-1876). Histoire des végétaux fossiles. Paris and Amsterdam: G. Dufour and E. d'Ocagne [vol. I] and Paris: Crochard et Compie. [vol. II], 1828-1837.
2 volumes, 4° (292 x 212mm). 198 (of 199) lithographic plates, 26 folding, by Houbloup, Guerin, Thierry Frères et al. after Meunier et al., after Brongniart's drawings. (Variable, generally light spotting, a few plates lightly stained or trimmed affecting captions only, lacking half-titles and plate I/164.) Contemporary half calf by Carss & Co., Glasgow, spines gilt in compartments with gilt morocco lettering-pieces (extremities somewhat rubbed and scuffed). Provenance: Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow (engraved bookplates; pencilled shelfmarks and ink marks on titles, shelfmarks on spines).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST PALEOBOTANICAL WORK. The Histoire is a methodical expansion of a paper published by Brongniart in 1822, in which he set forth the basis of the science of paleobotany, giving it 'a theoretical value of prime importance for biology as well as for geology ... The Histoire ... was a long, methodical, detailed and precise study that clearly showed Brongniart's two concerns: nomenclature and illustration' (DSB II, p.491). Brongniart divided the history of plant life into four distinct, geologically-determined periods, and divided the plant kingdom into six classes, a classification that foreshadowed modern views but was unfortunately discarded by Brongniart in his later studies. His depiction of gradual species change in the direction of increasing complexity, with the addition of a basic geological dimension, 'led to the biological chain formulated by Hofmeister in 1851. Brongniart noted both the phenomena of extinction ... and the correspondence between changes in fauna and flora and changes in climate' (DSB II, p.492). The Histoire was issued in parts, but never completed; only fascicules 13-15 of a planned volume II appeared, the last ending in the middle of a sentence. RARE; the only copy of the work recorded at auction since 1975 is the Norman copy. This copy is without the 11-page prospectus noted by Stafleu & Cowan in some copies. Dibner Heralds (1980), 95; Nissen BBI 242; Norman 350 (calling for a plate I/167, not noted by other references); Pritzel 1172; Stafleu & Cowan 800. (2)