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Beringer, J. B. A.

Lithographiae Wirceburgensis, ducentis lapidum figuratorum, a potiori insectiformium, prodigiosis imaginibus exornatae specimen primum, quod in dissertatione inaugurali physico-historica, cum annexis corollaris medicis, authoritate et consensu inclytae facultatis medicae, in alma Eoo-Francica Wirceburgensium Universitate...

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Würzburg, Philipp Wilhelm Fuggart, 1726. Folio (32.5 x 20.8 cm). Finely engraved frontispiece. [x], 96 pp., 21 engraved plates. Contemporary half calf over speckled boards. Spine with five raised, gilt-bordered bands; brown morocco label with gilt ornamental bands and title. Edges speckled red.

A contemporary bound copy of the very rare true first edition of this remarkable work by the German professor of geology, Johann Bartholomeus Adam Beringer (ca. 1667-1738), which was based on what may be regarded as the first palaeontological fraud. The "fossil" stones, with fantastic images of reptiles, frogs, stars, comets, insects, soft-bodied creatures like snails, Latin and Hebrew texts, etc., etc. were planted in a mountain near Wurzburg for Beringer to be found. It is still a mystery who was behind this hoax. Beringer's colleagues Johann Georg von Eckhart, and Jean Ignase Roderique have been named, even sentenced, but the latter was not in Würzburg yet when the hoax started. Some believe that Beringer knew from the beginning that the stones were fake, but quite probably he only saw the truth after receiving a stone with his own name on it, written in Hebrew. Ever since, these stones are known as the Würzburger Lügensteine (lying stones of Würzburg). Beringer went to ends to protect his status by retrieving all the copies he could find. However, he did not destroy them and after his death they resurfaced. With a new title page they were sold again, making a small fortune for Beringer's heirs, nearly 30 years after Beringer's death. Our copy does not include a short work by Georg Ludwig Hueber titled Corollaria medica which essentially deals with a different subject and is sometimes included; it is however never included in the 1767 second - title - edition. Boards rubbed at edges; old, weak stamp (cancelled) on title page verso; a few short, marginal tears, otherwise a very good, clean copy. Brunet I, 788; DSB II, 15; Horn-Schenkling, 1250; Junk Rara, p. 27; Nissen ZBI, 330; Ward & Carrozi, 182.

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