LACÉPEDE, comte de. History of fish. Paris, royal printing house, then Plassan, 1749- An XII . 44 volumes in-4
(245 x 188 mm), with 1 portrait, 1260 plates, 12 maps, and 38 large engraved vignettes, 4 folding typographical tables. Marbled calf, triple gilt fillet, royal coat of arms in the centre of each volume, spine ribbed, caissons decorated with the numeral 'L' interlaced, red morocco title-piece and tomes, red edges (uniform binding of the period).
PMM, 198; En français dans le texte, 152; Nissen, ZBI, 672;
Heilbrun, Buffon, pp. 233-237.
First edition. It is decorated with 1260 plates, mostly after drawings by de Sève, engraved by Helman, Fessard, de Sève fils, and others.
"Buffon's Natural History, General and Particular presented for the first time a complete survey of natural history in a popular form...
With the help of his assistant, Louis Daubenton, as anatomist, and later of other collaborators (notably the Comte de Lacépède), but always under his supervision and control, this vast enterprise eventually covered not only the entire animal creation, but many other ramifications... [Buffon] was the first to present the universe as one complete whole and to find no phenomenon calling for any but a purely scientific explanation" (PMM).
The laborious collation of this edition has not been carefully described by bibliographers, and Nissen as well as Heilbrun in his article on Buffon, give incorrect figures or make mistakes in the addition of plates.
- Histoire naturelle et théorie de la terre. 1749-1767. 15 volumes.
1 folding typographical table, 578 plates, 2 maps.
- Ornithology. 1770-1783. 9 volumes. 262 plates.
- Minerals. 1783-1788. 6 volumes (including map atlas). 8 maps.
- Supplement. 1774-1789. 7 volumes. Portrait, 225 plates (of 226, supplement I plate 16 = last), 2 maps.
- Oviparous quadrupeds. 1788-1789. 2 volumes. 2 typographical tables. 63 plates.
- Fish. 1798-1803. 5 volumes. 1 typographical table, 116 plates.
- Cetacea. 1804. 1 volumes. 16 plates.
Some occasional wetness (notably on the first 5 volumes, and on supplement 7), small worm gallery (Minerals I); spines, headpieces and corners restored, nevertheless with scratches and spalls.
Provenance: modern bookplate 'EB' with the motto 'fais harmonieusement ta vie'.