Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amérique Centrale. Ouvrage publié par ordre du Ministre de l'Instruction Publique. Recherches zoologiques. Troisième partie. Étude sur les reptiles et les batraciens. Livraisons 1-15.
Item ID 70911
Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1870-. Large 4to and matching folio (36.5 x 27.5 cm). General herpetological title; 860 pp.; 90 lithographed plates [numbered 1-68; 17bis, 18bis, 20A-G, 21A-C, 22A-J], of which 21 hand-coloured. Loose-leaved, as issued. In later portfolio. In 1864, two years after the start of a military campaign in Mexico, Napoleon III ordered an additional scientific expedition, modelled after the famous Egyptian scientific expedition initiated by Napoleon I, following the military campaign in that country. In contrast to the latter, the "Mexican expedition" only produced some haphazard results, mainly because the French lost interest after the end of the war. Nevertheless, a few superb monographs were among the published results. This includes the very rare part on reptiles, including tortoises, crocodiles, snakes, and lizards. The work forms part four of the " Mission Scientifique ", comprising 13 volumes. Also, they form part three of the " Recherches zoologiques ". The true amphibians were described in another part of this series. The authors themselves - the ichthyologist and herpetologist Auguste Duméril (1812-1870), and his colleague and artist, Marie Firmin Bocourt (1819-1904) - initiated the " Mission scientifique " series. The latter combined zoological knowledge with great artistic qualities. This volume is particularly rare, as it was published in instalments over a period of no less than 40 years. This copy lacks the last - all uncoloured - plates, viz. 69-77, and the title to the part. The general herpetological title is present. Apparently, subscription was terminated after 27 years, but before completion of the volume: According to Vanzolini, this is the whole work as published up to 1897 (or 1898, fide Flores-Villela & Bour), livraison 15. The concluding livraisons 16 and 17 were published more than ten years later, in 1908-1909: "by the last livraison, with plates drawn by F. Angel, the quality of the illustrations is noticeably poorer than Bocourt's illustrations" (Crane Library, p. 32). "This is one of the most difficult herpetology books to obtain in its complete form" (Adler). The authors of these last parts were François Mocquard (1834-1917) and Louis Léon Vaillant (1834-1914), who took over after the death of Bocourt. Scattered light foxing, a bit more on a few plates and explanatory text leaves; several snake plates age-toned, otherwise a very good copy of this extremely rare work. Flores-Villela & Bour, Publication history of the Mission scientifique au Mexique et dans l’Amérique Centrale, reptiles and amphibians (2016); Adler I, pp. 43-44 (for Duméril); Adler II, pp. 87-89 (for Bocourt); Crane Library, AC44, pp. 32-33; Nissen ZBI, 1198, 4694; Vanzolini I, pp. 115-116.