18 volumes 12mo illustrated with 262 full-page engravings. Complete. Few minor marginal tears. Marbled calf, blind-stamped fillet around the covers, spines ribbed and decorated with tools with spider webs as well as the bird tool at the foot of the spines, title pieces in light brown or antique rose morocco, red edges, 10 head or foot of spines slightly rubbed. Contemporary binding.
167 x 99 mm.
First edition in the 12mo format, made from the 4to issue, illustrated with 262 full-page engravings drawn by De Sève.
Nissen, IVB, 673.
It was one of the most ambitious and most complete works of the scientific literature.
The series dedicated to birds is well complete here with its 18 volumes. It belongs to the first 12mo edition of Buffon’s complete Works comprising 71 volumes, whose publication would take 53 years, from 1752 to 1805. No book lover owns this edition in contemporary uniform binding, the French Revolution and the half-century having stopped even the most passionate bibliophiles.
Great people of the time, selected complete subseries of books chosen among this impressive set, detailed as such: Histoire naturelle, 32 volumes – Supplément, 14 volumes – Oiseaux, 18 volumes – Minéraux, 9 volumes – Ovipares et Serpents, 4 volumes – Poissons, 11 volumes – Cétacées, 2 volumes.
In the plan of his work, at the beginning of the series of the birds, Buffon expresses himself like this: “This work is the result of nearly twenty years of study and research… Our work will contain almost everything we know about birds, and even though, it will only be a summary or rather an outline of their history, but this outline will be the first ever made of this kind […]” (Buffon).
The Histoire naturelle met, as soon as the first volumes were published, a huge success. Buffon was admired all over Europe and became as famous as Voltaire or Rousseau. He was nicknamed “the Pliny and Aristotle of France”; he entered without having made any approach, to the French Academy.
The Histoire naturelle was considered as one of the monuments of modern science and of the awakening of consciences, along with the Encyclopedia. It made the true science of observation fashionable and raised a huge development of natural sciences. It is the first fine attempt of popularization of the study of natural sciences which caused a discovery and a passion from a learned audience, and a desire of protection of this science by the sovereigns.
A fine copy complete with all its plates, preserved in its uniform ornamental binding from the time decorated with special tools with spider webs and birds.