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Paris, J. B. Baillière et fils, 1856-1865. Large 4to (30.5 x 24.5 cm). Text and atlas, in seven volumes. Text (in three parts - each in wrappers): half-titles and titles, 2,550 pp. [912; 968; 668, (ii)]. Atlas (in four parts, viz. of the two volumes, with the lithographed plates and the printed explanations separately - the latter in original wrappers): two title pages, 195 [88; 107] pp. of explanatory text; 196 large, finely lithographed plates [I-LXXXVII, XIbis, XVIbis; 1-107]. Original, nearly uniform printed wrappers (5) to all parts except blind wrappers (2) to the two plate volumes.
One of the largest and finest works of the French malacologist and palaeontologist Gérard Paul Deshayes (1796-1875). As is usual with works dealing with fossils, there was just one, uncoloured, edition. It was sold, in 1866, for 250 French francs: by far the most expensive of all uncoloured works on Mollusca. Only the hand-coloured edition of Férrussac and Deshayes' Histoire naturelle général et particulière des mollusques was more expensive, at 490 francs, discounted from a previous and astonishing 1,250 francs. The fine plates with large, detailed figures, are by Delahaye, Formant, Lackenbauer, and Levasseur. Most specimens have a detailed enlarged illustration, a life-size outline figure, and, often, a further enlarged sculpture detail; in the bivalves (first atlas) usually the taxonomically important hinges. Like most of his works, this one is important because of the many new species and detailed illustrations. The Description is one of the few works completed by the author, and includes simple plate numbering. Deshayes started many projects, but several remained unfinished and the plate numbering, for instance in his work on the molluscs of Algeria, was usually confusing. In this work, however, there are only two 'bis' plates. The last page of Volume 3 contains a list of publication dates of the 50 livraisons (issues), recording the first two as from 2 November 1856, and the last two (49 and 50) from 15 December 1865. Only the last title page and wrapper bear the year 1866. This work is truly rare, and possibly even Deshayes' rarest work. There are no auction records of complete copies after 1965, when Wheldon and Wesley purchased one at Sotheby's in London. Uncut, with the widest possible margins. The second and third text volume have the word "tome" printed, and "1er", and "2eme" added in an old hand; the first text volume has a wrapper with the printed text "tome troisième", the last word corrected in the same hand to "1er". A few small, isolated spots, the front wrapper of the third wrapper with some chipping at the edges; the last few leaves of the third volume (including an additional two-page list of Baillière publications) with a vague, circular damp-stain, but generally very clean, especially the plates. Caprotti II, p. 21 (185); Nissen ZBI, 1089.