Paris, Victor Masson, 1850-1860. Two volumes in two. 8vo (22.2 x 14.1 cm [text]; 22.0 x 15.7 cm [atlas]). 623 pp.; 198 lithographed plates, numbered 235-431, 237bis. Contemporary uniform half morocco over marbled boards. Spines with four raised bands, gilt vignettes and title. Marbled endpapers.
The most important contribution to the knowledge of the Jurassic gastropods of western Europe, with the descriptions and illustrations of numerous new and poorly known species. Alcide d'Orbigny died in 1855 before the work was finished. A small part of the text was then edited by the French palaeontologist Gustave-Honoré Cotteau (1818-1894), who is better known for his work on fossil Echinodermata. On page 537 of the second text volume appears the note: "Ici se termine le text impriné avant la mort de d'Orbigny. Ne voulant pas laisser ce volume inachevé, nous avons remis à M. Cotteau qui a bien voulu se charger de les coordonner, les notes manuscrites laissées par l'auteur. (Note de l'editeur, Octobre 1859)". The plate volumes with engravings, mostly by Delarue and Levasseur, are among the finest lithographed molluscan figures produced. The plate numbering is consecutive to that of the earlier published Cephalopoda volume, but the page numbering starts anew. The series Paléontologie Française was started by D'Orbigny and continued until 1894, treating various groups of fossils, also from Tertiary and older strata, and by different authors. For instance, Cotteau treated the Jurassic echinoderms, between 1867 and 1874. Several sections remained unfinished. Provenance: on the front pastedowns a bookplate of the library of Harvard College, "bought with the gift of William Gray of Boston, Mass (Class of 1829)", and dated by hand "July 19, 1862"; stamp of the American malacologist Richard Irwin Johnson (1925-2020) in the half-title top margin. A very good, complete set. Text with some spotting, as usual; the plates amazingly clean. Cat. BM(NH) p. 1474; Caprotti II, p. 207; Nissen ZBI, 4739.