LINNAEUS, CARL. Systema naturae, sive regna tria naturae systematice proposita per classes, ordines, genera, & species. Leiden: Johannes Wilhelm de Groot for Theodor Haak, 1735.
Broadsheet folio, 545 x 430 mm., uncut with deckle edges. 7 leaves of fine Dutch paper watermarked with a crowned fleur-de-lys and countermarked IV, printed on 12 pages (versos of title and final leaf blank), title with a few small edge tears, final leaf with 2-inch tear at right, the seven leaves once folded together horizontally across the center, the last two leaves with a hard crease, tiny hole in last two leaves catching two words on final leaf with no loss of legibility, title with type offset from the folding, final blank page slightly dust soiled. Modern folding case of morocco-edged marbled boards with morocco gilt title label on upper cover.
FIRST EDITION OF LINNAEUS'S FUNDAMENTAL TREATISE ON BOTANICAL CLASSIFICATION. "The Systema naturae is the basic work among Linnaeus' publications, offering as it does his classification for animals, plants, and minerals"(Hunt). His influence in the study of natural history -- which is based on these few previous leaves -- "has had few parallels in the history of science"(DSB). The work was printed and published between 9 and 13 December 1735, at the expense of Jan Frederik Gronovius and Isaac Lawson, for private circulation. Their letter to Sir Hans Sloane, 19 December 1735, presenting one copy to the Royal Society and another to the Botanical Society, explains that Linnaeus "was so kind to communicate to us his Systema Natura, which we sent to the press at our own expense, with an intention only to have a few copys; but at the request of several friends we were determined to communicate it fully (judging it might be agreable) to the Lerned world" (reproduced in Soulsby, plate 5).
"He divided the flowering plants (angiosperms) into twenty-three classes based on the number, situation, and relation of the stamens, e.g. Monandria with one stamen, Diandria with two stamens, etc., and these in turn he divided into orders based mostly on the number of styles or stigmas...Linnaeus's major zoological divisions were Mammalia (headed by Homo sapiens), Aves (birds), Amphibia (including also reptiles), Pisces (fish), Insects (including also crustaceans), and Vermes (including also molluscs)" (W.T.). Stearn in Biographical Dictionary of Scientists. From 1735 until 1766-68, the Systema naturae was revised and expanded by Linnaeus himself. The 12-page first edition grew through twelve subsequent editions during the author's lifetime, the twelfth of these swelling to 2374 pages.
OF THE GREATEST RARITY. A FRESH AND UNSOPHISTICATED COPY.
Dibner Heralds 27; Grolier/Horblit 68a; PMM 192; Pritzel 5404; Soulsby 39; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 4709.
Provenance: Robert de Belder