Paris, chez l'auteur, 1782. Large folio (42.7 x 27.9 cm). Engraved title page, [iv] pp. (explanations to plates 1-100, present twice]; 156 finely engraved and exquisitely hand-coloured plates. Contemporary full red morocco. Spine with six double, gilt-stippled, raised bands separated by a ruled floral green morocco strip; compartments with two green morocco labels with gilt title and red morocco inlay with gilt border. Boards with gilt ornamental greek key border and marbled panel in gilt-stippled border; gilt-lined edges and gilt floral inner dentelles; marbled endpapers.
Les dons merveilleux, règne animal is one the most sought-after publications of the French zoologist, botanist, physician, naturalist and publisher Pierre Joseph Buc'hoz (1731-1807) [also spelled Buchoz, and Buch'oz]. It must be very rare as we found only one auction record during the last 50 years (in 2004). The first 100 plates form a complete volume, and deals with mammals, shells, reptiles, birds, eggs, butterflies, etc., etc., including original images by Buc'hoz, and illustrations after others, including Maria Sybilla Merian. This is followed - in the same bound volume - by another 56 plates, again with fine zoological plates and observations. This work should not be confused with the very similarly titled work by Buc'hoz on plants: "Les dons merveilleux et diversement coloriés de la nature dans le règne végétal", which was published near-simultaneously, with 200 plant plates. The later is listed in the BM(NH) and Hunt catalogues, and by Nissen BBI, Sitwell "Great flower books", and others, while the zoology is in Nissen only, who reports 204 or 216 (with a query) plates; however, he only cites the listing of a copy in Vienna, royal library, and one with 142 plates in the Vienna natural history museum. OCLC states that both the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum have copies, but for neither the number of plates is given; A copy in the American Museum of Natural History has just 31 plates. Gallica shows a copy (apparently the Bibliothèque national de France, Paris copy) with rather different contents and a different printed index. Probably no copy is identical. Buc'hoz himself added to the confusion by stating, in a 1801 publication, that this title was for sale in two volumes with eighty plates each. This is contradicted by both our index and that in the Gallica copy. In 2004, Christie's, purportedly sold a copy with 200 plates, but - strangely - referred to the the bibliographies of the Regne végétal. More confusion is created by the presence of yet another, near identical title by Buc'hoz, on minerals. A few, isolated weak spots, otherwise a very good, clean copy, in a marvellous contemporary binding. Nissen ZBI, 651.