Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d'Afrique.


Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique.

Paris, Delachaussee, 1805-1808.

In stock

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‘By far the most important ornithological work published on Africa up to this period’ (Mendelssohn).

French ornithologist François Levaillant born in French Guiana, came to southern Africa in 1781 at the age of 28, after training as an ornithologist in Europe. His first expedition took him east as far as the Great Fish River, and he was in the area now around Somerset East and Cookhouse towards the end of 1781. He kept journals, but did not have an almanac, and was obviously a charming, eccentric, and dashing young man. He travelled with a large contingent in three ox wagons. His entourage included Kees, a baboon who served as food taster and companion, and a cock which was his alarm clock. He carried enough clothing and linen, he said, to allow him to change three times a day.


First edition. large paper copy, 6 volumes, folio (53 x 35 cm.), half titles in all volumes, 300 engraved plates in two states, printed in colours and finished by hand, and black and white, C.M. Fessard and J.L. Pereé after J.L. Reinold, some spotting, occasionally heavy, some off-setting, contemporary red morocco gilt, sides with rule border, decorative roll-tool inner border and central arabesque, spine gilt in compartments within raised bands, gilt dentelles, all edges gilt, with a few, minor scuff-marks at extremities.


Anker, 297; Fine Bird Books, p.118; Mendelssohn I, p.892; Nissen (IVB), 555; Zimmer, p.391


Stock ID: 98241