Author Gama Machado, J. J. Da Théorie des ressemblances, ou essai philosophique sur les moyens de déterminer les dispositions physiques et morales des animaux, d'après les analogies de formes, de robes et de couleurs.
Published 1831-1858
Item ID 72456
(Excl. 9% VAT)
Paris, Treutel et Würtz (1831), Fournier (1836-1844), J. Claye (1858). Four volumes in four. Large 4to/folio [30.0 x 22.7 (volumes 1–3)]; folio [34.5 x 26.3 cm (volume 4)]. All volumes with half title and title pages; 714 pp.; 54 (chromo-)lithographed plates, originally coloured or finished by hand. Contemporary full-pebbled morocco. Boards of volumes 1-3 rich gilt with floral patterns, adorned with various little gilt animals and scallops, and the initials G. S. (George Sand); rich gilt inner dentelles. Spines with four raised, gilt-stippled bands; compartments with gilt title, volume number, and George Sand's maxim, "Patience et persevèrance". Silken, iridescent endpapers. All edges gilt. Volume four in near identical binding, however spine without motto, boards with double gilt border, edges with simple gilt line, plain endpapers and edges. A unique and peculiar work, being one of the first to make a deeper study of resemblances in natural history. The many large plates are beautifully hand-coloured. Several observations made by Da Gama actually indicate true cases of mimicry, or true synapomorphies, but others are entirely coincidental similarities (e.g. the colours present in a bird, and in a flower). One of the mottoes on the title page of the second volume summarizes Da Gama Machedo's view "La couleur est le vrai pilote de la nature, pour donner la connaissance de la valeur de ses productions dans les tres règnes, animal, végétal et minéral". A second quote is from Goethe. Apparently, Da Gama had a keen interest in entomology and ornithology, as most plates contain insects and, especially, birds. According to the title, the first volume has 20 plates, but there are actually 21. One double-sized plate depicts the famous ‘Siamese twins’ Chang and Eng Bunker, at a table with the author, with two of the plates from this work hanging on the wall behind them. A complete collation is as follows: Volume I: 133 pp.; 21 chromolithographed plates, finished by hand; Volume 2: 199 pp.; 11 plates (partly chromolithography), of which two larger, folding; Volume 3: xxiv, 207 pp., 11 plates; Volume 4: [iv], 147 pp.; 11 plates. George Sand's set. With here initials in gilt on the front board. Inscribed by the author on half title verso of volumes 1,2 and 3: "A Madame George Sand. Hommage tres respectieux de l'auteur, J. J. da Gama Machedo 4 Nov. 1854". The French novelist, literary critic, newspaper publisher and socialist George Sand, born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (1804-1876) is not only famous because of her writings (in England, by the age of 27, she became more popular than Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac – vide Wikipedia), but also for her affair with Frédéric Chopin. Three mounted, printed notes – of which two on an extra leaf, bound in - relating to the presentation of the second and third volume to the academy of sciences in Lisbon (all three translated into French, and dated between 1841 and 1846). Volume 4 seems to be extremely scarce: the few libraries that have any holdings of this title don't have it, and none of the auction records (only 5 in the last 60 years) contained this volume ‘rarissime’. Boards somewhat rubbed, especially at the edges. Some age-toning, and light offsetting to a few plates (mostly in volume 1) of which a few more heavy. To a few plates some sort of varnish was used which results in some browning around the image (as in all copies), otherwise clean. In all, a very good, complete set of this exceedingly rare work. Cat. BM(NH), p. 637 (first three volumes only); Nissen ZBI, 1472. George Sand's copy - with her initials - a very rare complete set