An exceedingly rare, aberrant copy of this early and influential work on comparative zoology

Perrault, C.

Memoire pour servir à l'histoire naturelle du lion, de la lionne, du caméléon, de l'ours, de la gazelle, du chat-pard, du renard marin, du loup-cervier, de la loutre, de la civette, de l'élan, du veau marin & du chamois; par Charles Perrault, avec douze figures gravées d'après Séb. Leclerc, par de bons artistes.

Published 1700
Item ID 64679
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Paris, l'Imprimerie du Louvre, 1700. Folio (42.2 x 28.0 cm). Half-title, title page with engraved vignette, 124 pp.; 20 large, finely engraved plates. Contemporary full calf. Spine with six raised bands, compartments with gilt ornaments. Marbled endpapers. Edges speckled red.

Perhaps unique copy of this early and influential work on comparative zoology, morphology and anatomy by the French zoologist, Latinist, architect, and founding member of the Académie de Sciences, Claude Perrault (1613-1688). According to a note written below the advice to the binder, this is the 1688 edition, augmented with eight additional plates. Indeed, apart from the animals mentioned in the title (lion, lioness, chameleon, bear, gazelle, leopard, shark, lynx, otter, civet, eland, sea cow (actually a seal), and chamois) there are images of a pangolin, caracal, hog-like animal, two species of stork, spoonbill, ostrich, gazelle, hedgehog and porcupine, the latter two on one plate. Only the gazelle has an additional description, whereas on pp. 119-123 there is an extensive description of the cormoran (cormorant) and on p. 124 a one-page description of the cocq-indien (curassow) which, however, are not figured. There is only one copy mentioned in an antiquarian catalogue during the last 40 years, and one copy in a French library, however, with 12 plates and 118 pages only. Brunet states that the 1688 edition has four, not eight, additional plates and 124 text pages, and the 1700 title edition had only 16 plates and 118 text pages, that is: the same as the one copy on record in a French library. On the title page the author is named Charles Pérault, a double error for Claude Perrault. Perrault had died more than a decade before and apparently nobody cared to check his name. Charles was the name of Claude's younger brother, who was best known for creating a new literary genre: the fairy tale. The "Memoire" in the title is a small error for Mémoires but apart from these peculiarities this edition is carefully executed. Boards and spine rubbed and a bit dry, spine label absent, small wormhole through several text and plate leaves, inscribed by former owner in the half-title top margin, old annotation in the margin of the front flyleaf verso, some scattered marginal foxing or light soiling but internally still a good, clean copy. Exceedingly rare. Adler III, pp. 18-20; Brunet IV, p. 507; Nissen ZBI, 3122 (for the smaller and shorter 1669 edition).

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