Barthez, Paul-Joseph | Nouvelle Méchanique des Mouvements de l'Homme et des Animaux
First edition of this important work in the history of neurophysiology by the French physician Paul-Joseph Barthez (1734-1806), who “demonstrated through very intricate anatomical analysis that the simple hydraulic explanations offered by the iatrochemists (particularly Borelli) would never explain the delicate balance and control of muscles that are needed for such motions as walking and swimming” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography I, p. 479). An attractive copy in contemporary mottled calf.
Carcassonne: Pierre Polere, 1798.
Quarto (258 x 195 mm). Contemporary mottled calf, spine gilt in compartments, red morocco label, triple gilt fillets, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Small abrasion where an signature has been removed from the verso of the front free endpaper, a few tiny spots to the title and occasionally to the contents. Mild rubbing and scuffing of the binding. An excellent, unsophisticated copy.
Bewick, Thomas | A History of British Birds
The seventh edition of one of the finest illustrated ornithology books ever published, the first field guide affordable to the middle class. This being the final edition to include new wood engravings, including Bewick’s last bird engraving, the Cream Coloured Plover. An attractive set, the contents fresh.
“In early May 1825, near Helpston in Northampstonshire, the poet John Clare saw a small brown bird that he could not identify. Did anyone, he asked his friend Joseph Henderson, have a copy of Bewick’s Birds? All lovers of birds in these years looked to Bewick. He spoke directly to a man like Clare, a former farm worker and lime burner who knew every inch of the fields around his home, and to Henderson, head gardener at the nearby hall. Bewick was in his seventies by then, but he came from the same world as them, growing up on a small-holding in the Tyne Valley... He was a fine naturalist himself, and his work combined keen, detailed observation with a new approach showing animals and birds in their natural settings, as part of the whole great interrelated web of nature. ‘Nature’ and God fused together in Bewick’s vision, as a rolling force that infused every aspect of life, from the habits of an ant to the vastness of the universe, ‘this sublime, this amazing, this mighty work of Suns and Worlds innumerable’. He felt its darkness as well as its beauty and his work touched the dawning Romantic age: Wordsworth was among the first to sing his praises and Charlotte Brontë placed his prints of icy seas in the hands of her young heroine, Jane Eyre” (Uglow, Nature’s Engraver, pp. xvii-xviii).
Newcastle: for R. E. Bewick, sold by him, Longman and Co., 1832.
2 volumes, octavo (211 x 129 mm). Mid-19th century calf, spines elaborately gilt in compartments with floral tools, brown morocco labels, double gilt fillets, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers and edges. Wood engravings throughout. Bindings a little rubbed with a few small scuffs and abrasions, including a one and a half cm abrasion affecting a title label on volume I, light spotting to the title of volume II but otherwise the contents are clean and fresh. Very good condition.
Burr, G. D. [George Dominicus] | Instructions in Practical Surveying, Topographical Plan Drawing, and Sketching Ground Without Instruments
Second edition with additions, first published in 1839. An attractively bound prize copy awarded by the Royal Military College at Sandhurst to Henry George White for “attention to, and progress in, military drawing”. With White’s later bookplate giving his rank as Major General.
Author George Dominicus Burr (d. 1855), was for forty years an esteemed professor of military surveying at the Royal Military College, and it is presumably he himself who presented this prize volume. The contents cover practical surveying and military drawing for students with no prior knowledge of the art, “confidently recommending to [them] a practice founded upon long experience, and certain in its results, within the limits we have assigned to it” (introduction).
The recipient, Major General Henry George White (1835 - 1906) “had a distinguished career in the British Army serving at the Crimean War (1854-56), in the Indian Mutiny (1858-59), in Cyprus (1878-79) and Bechanaland in South Africa in the 1880s” (Irish National Inventory of Architectural Heritage ).
...With Plates and Woodcuts. Second Edition.
London: John Murray, 1847.
Octavo (183 x 115 mm). Contemporary prize binding of green morocco, spine gilt in compartments, title, single-line rules, elaborate crests to boards, acorn and oak leaf roll to turn-ins, and all edges gilt, marbled endpapers. 5 folding plates on tissue, diagrams within the text. Prize and ownership bookplates to the front endpapers. Binding lightly rubbed with a few mild scuffs and some light wear at the extremities, a little faint spotting to the folding plates. Very good condition.
Coupin, H. & John Lea | The Romance of Animal Arts & Crafts
- A handsomely bound copy of this illustrated book on structures built by animals, including insect and bird nests, burrows and tunnels, homes bored into rock and wood, and constructions of mud and natural cements. Originally published in 1906 or 07.
- Being an Interesting Account of the Spinning, Weaving, Sewing, Manufacture of Paper and Pottery, Aeronautics, Raft-Building, Road-Making, and Various Other Industries of Wild-Life. With Many Illustrations. London: Seely, Service & Co. Limited, 1927. Octavo (187 x126 mm). Contemporary red half calf prize binding for the City of London Freeman's School, spine gilt in compartments, crest to upper board gilt, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Frontispiece and 15 plates, 2 illustrations within the text. Prize bookplate. Spine a little faded, a little rubbing at the extremities, light spotting to edges of text block. An excellent copy.
Vos, George H. | Birds and Their Nests and Eggs
A handsomely bound copy of a later impression, originally published in 1907. This lovely little book is "an attempt to describe by camera and pen the recent rambles of two friends, during the months of May and June, in search of birds and their nests for the purpose of photographing them in and near London". It includes a large number of photographs of British birds (usually stuffed specimens) as well as their nests, eggs, and habitats.
- Found in and Near Great Towns. Illustrated by reproduction of photographs of each bird, its nest and eggs, made by the author from Nature, and of incidental scenes. Second edition, revised. London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1910. Octavo (174 x 117 mm). Contemporary tree calf prize binding, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, red morocco label, gilt floral roll to boards, gilt crest of the Terra Nova School to the upper board, marbled endpapers and edges. Prize bookplate. Frontispiece and illustrations throughout from photographs. Very lightly rubbed at extremities, spine a little faded. Excellent condition.
Wood, J. G. | Insects at Home
An attractively bound and copiously illustrated work on British insects by the naturalist John George Wood (1827-1889), originally published in 1872.
Wood began his career in the Church of England, but from the early 1880s "was developing a career as a natural historian; his first book, The Illustrated Natural History, was published in 1851. Several more works had followed by 1856, when he began to give occasional lectures on natural history subjects. Wood's appeal as a populariser of natural history was spotted by the publisher George Routledge. Routledge asked him to contribute to a shilling series of handbooks, starting with Common Objects of the Seashore (1857), which enjoyed huge popularity among holiday-makers to the coast. Common Objects of the Country (1858) had an even greater success, and Routledge followed this with a three-volume Illustrated Natural History (1859) by Wood. Many future naturalists were said to have been inspired by reading these books at an early age" (ODNB)
"Wood wrote more than seventy books, some under the pseudonym George Forrest. The majority of them were on natural history, but he also published works on the history of the biblical period and English scenery... and edited titles as diverse as Gilbert White's Natural History of Selbourne and the Boy's Own Magazine. His own natural history titles, such as Our Garden Friends and Foes (1863) and Handy Natural History (1886), were not rigorously scientific but were influential in popularizing the subject. His works on microscopy such as Common Objects of the Microscope (1861) and Nature's Teaching (1877) are still in use by amateur microscopists who hold him in affection" (ODNB).
- ...Being a Popular Account of British Insects, their Structure, Habits, and Transformations. With Upwards of 700 Figures by E. A. Smith and J. B. Zwecker, Engraved by G. Pearson. New Edition. Large octavo (215 x 140 mm). Contemporary tan calf prize binding, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, black morocco label, double lines rules to boards and Hanley Castle Grammar School Crest to upper board gilt, marbled edges and endpapers, turn-overs ruled in blind. Contemporary presentation inscription to the front blank. Colour frontispiece and 20 engraved plates, engravings throughout the text. Boards a little rubbed and scuffed, small gouge from top edge of lower board, blank piece of paper pasted over an inscription on the verso of the front free endpaper, light spotting to contents. A very good copy.
[Seaweed] | An exceptional Victorian seaweed album
A sumptuous, mid-19th century seaweed album, unusually finely bound and containing eighty specimens.
Most seaweed albums we have handled have been simply bound in skiver or paper-covered blank books. This example, however, is in green morocco with elaborate gold tooling and attractive, gilt patterned endpapers. The specimens are among the most beautiful we have seen, delicate, artfully arranged, and retaining their colour and texture, and they represent an unusually varied selection of species. Each one is individually mounted on white card, and hand-labelled with its scientific name and the location where it was collected. Most were found in Cumbria, at Roa and Piel Islands off the Furness Peninsula, as well as the mainland beaches of Roose, Baycliff, Aldingham, Bardsea, Saltcoats, Rampside, Flimby, and Maryport. Also represented are nearby Ayrshire in southwest Scotland, as well as more exotic locales: the Isle of Mann, Gibralter, Tangier, and one location given only as “Mediterranean”.
Seaweed collecting was, together with other types of natural history collecting and scrapbooking, a popular occupation for young women during the Victorian era. Inspired in part by the Romantic Movement's reverence for nature, it was considered a wholesome way for women to engage with the outdoors, and it also functioned as a social accomplishment indicating one's suitability for marriage and family life.
Nature was at the centre of the Victorian domestic imagination, and "one reason for the appearance of various representations of the natural world in the parlour. was a continuing apprehension of the world as beautiful - or at least a continuing prestige attached to those who were sensible of that beauty" (Logan, The Victorian Parlour, p. 142). Nature was inextricably tied to religious and moral edification, with amateur collectors "drawn to the study of the natural world as a culturally approved form of recreation. seen as aesthetically pleasing, educational and morally beneficial, since [nature] lifted the mind to a new appreciation of God" (Logan, p. 144).
"Queen Victoria as a young girl made a seaweed album; later in the century, materials for such an album could be purchased at seaside shops like that of Mary Wyatt in Torquay, who specialized in natural souvenirs" (Logan, p. 124). "In the late 19th Century, the books Sea Mosses: A Collector's Guide and An Introduction to the Study of Marine Algae by A. B. Hervey outlined how to properly press and mount various types of algae. The tools needed are a pair of pliers, scissors, a stick with a needle in the end, at least two 'wash bowls,' botanist's 'drying paper,' or some kind of blotting paper, cotton cloth, and finally cards to mount the specimens on. Pliers and scissors are used to handle the specimens and cut away any extraneous, 'superfluous' branches, and the needle is used like a pencil so that the plant can be moved around with relative ease to show the finer details. The drying and pressing process consists of layering the mounting papers with various types of blotting cloth and additional paper topped with weights; in this case the weights suggested by Hervey are 50 lbs. worth of rocks found by the seashore. Most seaweed in this case will adhere to the mounting board via gelatinous materials emitted from the plant itself" (Harvard University, Mary A. Robinson online exhibition).
United Kingdom, mid-19th century.
Tall quarto (288 x 227 mm). Contemporary green morocco rebacked with the original spine laid down, spine elaborately gilt in compartments, elaborate gilt rules and rolls to boards, cornerpieces, gilt turn-ins and patterned endpapers, all edges gilt. 24 leaves of green paper with 80 specimens mounted on white paper inserts of various sizes, each labelled with scientific name and location in manuscript, tissue guards. Rebacked as noted above, small repairs to corners, binding rubbed and scuffed, occasional light spots and toning of contents, one specimen lacking. Very good condition.