(Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars, [1845-46]). 165 x 108 mm. (6 1/2 x 4 1/4"). 40 volumes. Second Edition.
QUITE ATTRACTIVE CONTEMPORARY HALF MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, THE VOLUMES BOUND IN FOUR DIFFERENT COLORS TO REFLECT THE VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM (the 14 volumes on birds bound in red, the 13 volumes on mammals in dark green, the seven volumes on insects in dark blue, and the six volumes on fish in deep purple), all the volumes with gilt-decorated raised bands, spines uniformly gilt in compartments with lozenge centerpiece composed of drawer handle stamps and enclosing a small flower, the whole surrounded by triangular scrolling cornerpieces, marbled edges (sides and endpapers not uniform--by design: the mammals and fish with watered silk covers, the birds and insects with buckram; the mammals, fish, and insects with tartan endpapers, the birds with an unusual maze-like design). WITH A TOTAL OF 1,360 ZOOLOGICAL PLATES, INCLUDING 1,280 PLATES OF VARIOUS ANIMALS, ALL BUT A FEW HAND COLORED, along with 40 engraved frontispiece portraits of noted zoologists and 40 (mostly uncolored) engraved title pages, all but a very few of the engravings with original tissue guards. (One fish engraving mentioned in the list of plates, but apparently not issued, since no text relating to it appears.) Front pastedowns with armorial bookplate of Edward Salvin Bowlby. Nissen 4708; Wood, pp. 405-06; Zimmer, p. 326. Just the most minor rubbing to leather extremities, slight chafing or soiling here and there to cloth boards, trivial imperfections internally, but AN EXTRAORDINARILY APPEALING SET IN VERY FINE CONDITION, the bindings especially bright, almost without wear, and most pleasing on the shelf, and the text remarkably smooth, clean, and fresh, with virtually no signs of use.
This famous collection of writings on natural history and on naturalists, augmented by more than 1,300 (mostly colored) engravings, was issued in individual volumes from 1833-43; the present set is a very early reprint of the completed 40-volume work. The book's general editor, Jardine (1800-74), also wrote about a third of the volumes, mostly on birds and fish. Wood says that it is "a remarkable little library of early nineteenth-century zoology, as well as a brief account of the lives of the chief zoologists of all time." The plates here feature figures of animals that are fully colored against an uncolored background, an arrangement that makes the species under discussion stand out as more clearly delineated. Complete sets with all of the plates, like this one, are not so readily available as in the past. And because the attractive engravings have meant that the work has frequently been the victim of affectionate destruction, sets that are both clean internally and in contemporary bindings in excellent condition are especially rare. This is all the more true in the case of sets bound in attractive leather. The present copy is extraordinary because it still opens stiffly, indicating that it has experienced very little use, and because it is bound so distinctively: we have never seen this work--or any multi-volume work like it, for that matter--bound in such a way as to reflect its various sections of content with varying colors of leather. Our set comes from the library of Victorian gentleman Edward Salvin Bowlby (1830-1902), a barrister who served as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire. (ST11765)
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