Georges Louis Leclerc, comte
natural history, abridged...illustrated with great variety of copper plates,
elegantly engraved. London: C. & G. Kearsley, 1792. 8vo (21.8 cm,
8.6"). 2 vols. I: Frontis., ix, , [xix]–xxv, , 353, [1 (blank)]
pp.; 40 col. plts. II: , [xi]–xvii, , [xxvii]–xxxvii, ,
494 pp.; 67 col. plts. (3 folding).
Second printing of this abridged version, following the first English-language edition of 1791. Buffon was widely admired by the public for his numerous scientific publications, although his disagreement with the church’s
position on the age of the earth and his musings on the connections between men and apes did not earn him much support from contemporary scholars; his original Histoire Naturelle, published in 15 volumes, is here rendered into a two-volume set more suitable for “the youngest class of readers” (p. iii) — with an editorial acknowledgment that the botany may be a bit of a challenge for them.
The illustrations here capture an array of birds, insects, fish, and animals, with a few human curiosities thrown in for good measure. This unusual set has had 107 of its plates hand-colored (the uncolored frontispiece, engraved by Chesham after a painting by Burney, makes a total of 108); this treatment is not standard, and the colorist’s work is exquisite. Despite the binder’s instructions for plate placement, included at the front of each volume, the present set has the appropriate plates bound in at each volume’s end, making fortwo
breath-taking series of page-turnings.
Click any image above for an enlargement.
Both volumes have some leaves printed on blue paper.
ESTC T139462. Contemporary quarter calf with marbled paper–covered sides, spines with gilt-stamped leather title-labels and gilt-stamped volume numbers; sides abraded, with leather cracking over joints and pulled away over spine heads. Light waterstaining to upper inner margins of a few leaves in both volumes; plate 97 (two snakes) with small scrapes to image.
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