An attractively bound set of “one of the earlier but very important editions of a fundamental and famous treatise on natural history” (Wood).
“Ranks still as one of the most important of all bird books from the collector’s point of view” (Fine Bird Books).
There is a table of contents at the beginning of each volume listing species/types of bird, each of which has a written description, followed by exquisite engraved plates of the described birds. These engravings being by Francois-Nicolas Martinet who had also collaborated on the L’Ornithologie by Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760, as well as in the Encyclopaedia of Diderot. By the end of his lifetime he was so experienced in producing ornithological engravings that he published his own book of them. He was celebrated for the realism with which he drew, as contemporaries and predecessors lacked proportion when drawing birds, which made their actual identification for an amateur ornithologist extremely difficult.
Buffon was an aristocratic eighteenth century naturalist, mathematician, and biologist. He was appointed keeper of the “Jardin du Roi”, later the “Jardin des Plantes”, and the collection connected with it, the “Cabinet du Roi” in 1739. He augmented the collection of birds exponentially, increasing it to more than 800 species gathered from all four corners of the globe. In 1765 at Buffon’s direction, Martinet began drawing and painting the collection and engraved the plates under the supervision of Edme Daubenton.
In 1770 the first volume devoted to birds was published: “Its popularity was primarily assured by Buffon’s great literary ability which allowed him to present even the most difficult topics in such sparkling style, in such a universally understandable form, and so fascinating a manner that, as was said, even ladies found amusement in reading about them. The special merit of the work is principally due to the fact that it was the first to create interest in Nature and natural history in wide circles” (Anker). Buffon’s “Oiseaux” was ultimately issued in four formats: the large and ordinary paper folio sets were issued with hand-colored plates by and after Francois Martinet. Quarto and twelve-mo issues were also produced, illustrated with a series of black and white plates drawn by de Seve.
15 vols, with engraved frontispiece portrait, 603 plates (of which 2 folding), 8 folding maps, and folding Table des chiens; bound with half-title to vol. I, 6 plates not called for by the notes to binders, without pl. III to vol. XII.
I: , viii, [2 (table)], 222, with frontispiece and 4 plates (pls III & IV cartographic), 8 folding maps, with half-title
II: , 228, with 8 plates (of which one folding)
III: , 214, with 18 plates (pl. XIV misbound but present)
IV: , vi, -211, [1 (blank)], with 23 plates
V: , 163, [1 (blank)], a ‘Table des chiens’ and 60 plates (pl. XL misbound but present)
VI: , iii-iv, 134, with 49 plates (several misbound, but complete)
VII: , 184, with 48 plates (complete)
VIII: , 196, with 54 plates (complete)
IX: , 173, [1 (blank)], with 41 plates (complete)
X: , 168, with 57 plates (complete)
XI: , 190, with 44 plates (numbered I-XLIII & XXV*, the last not called for, complete)
XII: , 212, with 59 plates (of 60 – lacking pl. III)
XIII: , 72, 69*-72*, 73-218, with 62 plates (numbered I-LX, XLVIII*, & LIV*, the last two not called for, complete)
XIV: , 218, with 60 plates (numbered I-LIX & XIL, complete)
XV: , iii-viii, 126, 106, with 16 plates (only pls I-XIII called for), of which one folding
Supplement (Amsterdam: J.H. Schneider, 1774-1799) –
7 vols, with 215 plates (of which 5 folding) and 2 folding maps; with half-titles to vols I-VI.
I: , 258, x (index), with 16 plates (of which one folding), with half-title
II: , 292, with half-title
III: , v-vi, 302, with 6 plates (complete), with half-title
IV: , vi, 175, [1 (blank)], with 67 plates (complete), with half-title
V: , v-vii, [1 (blank except catchword)], 225, [1 (blank)], with 46 plates (complete), with half-title
VI: , iii-iv, 288, with 6 plates (of which 4 folding) and 2 folding maps (complete), with half-title
VII: , iii-xvi, 48, 41-158, with 74 plates (unnumbered but complete)
Oiseaux (Dordrecht: A. Blussé & fils, 1796-1799) –
9 vols, with 263 plates.
I: , 242, with 29 plates (complete)
II: , v-viii, 270, with 27 plates
III: , iii-xiv, 260, with 31 plates (complete)
IV: , iii-xii, 303, [1 (blank)], with 28 plates (complete)
V: , iii-viii, 282, [2 (errata, blank)], with 22 plates (complete)
VI: , iii-xii, 356, with 25 plates (complete)
VII: , iii-viii, 282, ix-xii, 283-285, [1 (blank)], with 31 plates (complete)
VIII: , iii-viii, 256, with 39 plates (complete)
IX: , iii-vi, 217, [1 (blank)], with 31 plates (complete)
Minéraux (Dordrecht: A. Blussé & fils, 1798) –
I: , 253, [1 (blank)] II: , 262, [2 (blank)] III: , 277, [1 (blank)] IV: , 204
V: , 324
Serpens (Dordrecht: A. Blussé & fils, 1799) –
2 vols, with 63 plates.
I: 10, 276, with 41 plates (complete)
II: , 3-14, 1-160, 157-280, , with 22 plates (complete)
Nouvelle edition, 38 vol., 4to. 257 by 205mm (10 by 8 inches),with engraved frontispiece portrait to Histoire naturelle vol. I, 1144 plates (of which 7 folding), 10 folding maps, and folding Table des chiens; bound with half-titles to Histoire naturelle vol. I and Supplement vols I-VI, 6 plates not called for by the notes to binders, without pl. III, vol. XII, early tree calf-backed marbled boards, spines tooled in gilt with red morocco lettering label, a few headbands very slightly rubbed but generally very fresh.
Provenance: “Decret du XXIX Decemebre MDCCCX. (Bouches de la Meuse)”, circular stamp on title-page of first volume.
Nissen ZBI 678.
Stock ID: 98237