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Boutan, L.

Décades zoologiques de la Mission scientifique permanente d’Exploration en Indo-Chine. Oiseaux. Décades 1-9. [Complete].

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Hanoi, [F. H. Schneider], 1905-1906. Large 4to (27.4 x 18.8 cm) [28.5 x 21.0 cm]. 24 pp.; 97 hand-coloured plates on rice paper (each with additional printed text leaves) and two silver gelatin photograph plates mounted on 89 leaves; two uncoloured plates, mounted on text leaves [for a total of 99 printed plates on rice paper]. Slightly later 20th-century uniform full morocco; spines with four raised bands, and gilt title; front boards with gilt title. Original orange printed front wrapper bound in rear.

These are the complete ornithological results of a "permanent" French zoological mission to Indo-China. The only edition, published in low numbers, with each issue (decade) signed. A single issue typically consisted of red printed wrappers with a decade number on the front wrapper, and a list of ten birds treated on the rear; a dated title page, signed and numbered on the verso, and - with two exceptions - ten printed cardboard sheets with printed and hand-coloured bird drawings mounted and accompanied with unnumbered sheets containing descriptive text. A general title page, with Boutan's stamp on the verso, and 24 pages with a general introduction and two additional mounted b/w plates completed the work. Single decades were limited to 200 (parts 1-6) or 250 (parts 7-9) numbered copies each. The number of completed sets must have been much lower. But any part is rare now. The fine illustrations are mostly by Dang-ngoc-Quan, a few are by "Phuc". Six parts are personally signed by the author on the colophon; two parts are signed by his successors, also as Director of the Permanent Scientific Mission, the first decade is not signed. In total, 90 bird species are discussed. One species, the heron, Ardetta flavicollis is represented on two leaves in the third "decade" (which, thus, has eleven leaves and is, stricktly speaking, not a decade). Another heron species, Ardetta chinensis , has no illustration. Boutan wrote "Par suite d’un accident et pour ne pas retarder la quatrième decaix la planche de l’ Ardetta Sinensis (Gm.) sera jointe à l’une des decaises suivantes" (loosely inserted cyclostat leaf). The promised later inclusion, however, did never materialize ("Elle n'a sans doute jamais paru"). Seven species have additional hand-coloured illustrations on rice paper mounted on cardboard versos. The presence of two photos, as in this copy, was noted by Ronsil. Louis Boutan wrote most of the text, but a few species were described by Fabien Giraud or A. Menegaux. See Ronsil for details. Two more parts - both not on birds - were published in 1908. There are only three auction records since WWII. Wood only reports 93 plates and stated "Wanting". Provenance: Wassenaar Zoo; Bonhams 30 May 2018; Asher, Amsterdam, 21 April 1958. Nissen ZBI 4603; Ronsil, 359; Wood, p. 314.

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