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The first German edition of a classic zoological work

[BUFFON, Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de, and Louis J.M. DAUBENTON].
Allgemeine Historie der Natur nach allen ihren besondern Theilen abgehandelt; nebst einer Beschreibung der Naturalienkammer Sr. Majestät des Königes von Frankreich. Mit einer Vorrede Herrn Doctor Albrecht von Haller.
Hamburg and Leipzig, Georg Christian Grund and Adam Heinrich Holle, 1750-1772. 8 (of 11) volumes (divided into two parts each). 4to. With engraved vignette on 16 title-pages, engraved headpiece to the dedication, engraved headpieces to each part, 2 engraved maps, folding engraved genealogical table, 1 folding letterpress table and 575 engraved plates. Contemporary vellum (not strictly matching). Each vol. ca. 650 pp.
€ 6,950
Very rare first edition of the German translation of Buffon's famous Histoire naturelle. Buffon's work presents ''for the first time a complete survey of natural history in popular form'' (PMM). The first volume contains Buffon's theoretical essays, including his essay on the earth where "for the first time he outlines a satisfactory account of the history of our globe and of its development as a fitting home for living things. In his view the earth had been originally part of the sun which was broken off by the impact of a comet. It gradually condensed from its gaseous state, and the forces shaping its continents and mountains are still active'' (PMM). This view of the universe not in a steady state but evolving was a revolutionary idea at the time, paving the way for Darwin in the following century. In his treatise on humans (volume II.1), Buffon ''studied the human species by the same methods that he applied to animal species, including the psychological, moral, and intellectual life of man. From his exhaustive research for the Histoire naturelle des quadrupèdes, Buffon came to the conclusion that it was necessary to reintroduce the notion of family. Breaking with the spirit of his time, Buffon attempted to separate science from metaphysical and religious ideas. As a disciple of Locke he denied idealistic metaphysics, stating that mental abstractions can never become principles of either existence or real knowledge; these can come only as the results of sensation'' (DSB). Volumes II-VIII deal with quadrupeds. The German edition was begun in 1750 but discontinued after the three volumes on ornithology in 1782 (not included here), while the original French, which had started in 1749, continued till 1804 and comprised eventually 44 volumes.
The first 8 volumes of the German Buffon, with an owner's inscription on title-page of the first volume dated 1750. Only some occasional spot, but otherwise in very good condition. Nissen, ZBI 709; cf. Anker 79 (vols. IX-XI); DSB II, pp. 576-582; PMM 198; Wood p. 267.
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Natural history  >  Mammals | Museums & Wunderkammer