Author Merrem, B. Beytraege zur Naturgeschichte. [Beytraege zur Geschichte der Amphibien]. Parts I-III [Complete].
Published 1821-1829
Item ID 72208
(Excl. 9% VAT)
Duisburg und Lemgo, Auf Kosten des Verfassers, und in Commission in der Meyersche Buchhandlung, [1790] [Erstes Heft]; Leipzig, In der Verlagshandlung der Gelehrten, 1790 [Zweytes Heft); Essen, G. D. Baedeker, 1821 (Drittes Heft). Three volumes in one. 4to (20.5 x 25.7 cm). Six title pages, two dedication leaves; [ii], 47 pp.: 59, [i] pp.; ii, 141, [ii] pp. Several text engravings; 37 mostly engraved plates (those in volume three in early lithography) of which 36 in fine, contemporary hand-colouring. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, spine with gilt lines and burgundy morocco label with gilt title. Edges speckled red. In later protective light brown cloth slipcase. Exceedingly rare, true first edition. The chief herpetological contribution by the German naturalist (mainly ornithologist) Blasius Merrem (1761-1824), a student of Blumenbach. The first part was published without a date, but known to be from 1790 (fide Adler, and Schmidtler). In the first two parts, a second title, Beytraege zur Geschichte der Amphibien , is present; and the second part even includes a third title, Beschreibung der Amphibiensammlung des Herrn Doctors und Medicinalraths Janssen in Düsseldorf . More than 30 years later, a third part was published (with the second title now as full title, and with Beitraege instead of Beytraege ). The third part has two additional drop-head titles, namely I. Verbesserungen und Zusätze zu den beiden ersten Heften der Beiträge zur Geschichte der Amphibien (p. 1), and II. Bemerkungen über die Amphibien des Vorgebirges der guten Hoffnung und beschreibungen einiger derselben (p. 63); the latter section dealing with (new) reptiles from the Cape Region in South Africa. The first two parts - both long out of print - were republished in, respectively, 1821 and (after the author’s death) 1829. “His most elaborate herpetological book is little known today because it was published mostly at Merrem’s own expense and thus in such a small edition that it is now very rare. ... it is a more competent work than that of Count de Lacepède or Merrem’s other contemporaries” (Adler). Vanzolini wrote that he had seen only one copy. Sometimes, this work is stated to have 38 plates. However, as Schmidtler points out: “Das erste und das zweite Heft enthalten je 12 handkolorierte Kupfertafeln mit Schlangen. Hinzu kommen im ersten Heft noch die bereits besprochene Kupfervignette … und im zweiten Heft drei unkolorierte Textabbildungen… Vom zweiten Heft … wurde im Jahre 1829 eine zweite Auflage, inhaltlich unverändert, aber Plat sparend, gedruckt. Dabei wurden die drei Textfiguren aus der ersten Auflage … mit Körperteilen von Schlangen, auf einer dreizehnten Tafel vereinigt”. The inclusion of lithographed plates in the third part makes it a “lithographic incunable” (see Dussler), it is perhaps the first German herpetological work with lithographs. As in most early German herpetological publications, ‘Amphibien’ should not be read as ‘Amphibia’, as it covers all reptiles too. In fact, snakes form the essential part of Merrem’s work, and only the last section, on South African herpetology, includes other orders. A beautiful work, which rarely appears on the market; only two complete copies in the auction records in the last 60 years, of which only one entirely in the real first edition (this copy). Several plates - in particular in the third part - with the fore edge a bit shorter, as issued. Some light wear to binding, mostly at the top edges; short, marginal tear in the fore edge of the third title to the zweytes Heft; Latin names added in pencil in the lower plate margins. Provenance: on the front free endpaper the name and signature of Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt (1773-1854), a Dutch chemistry and natural history professor of German descent and founder of the famous Botanical Gardens, 's Lands Plantentuin at Buitenzorg, which is still in existence as Kebun Raya Bogor, Indonesia. Some record his name as C. G. L. or C. G. S. Reinwardt. A fine, spotless copy of this herpetological gem. Adler I, pp. 15-16; Dussler, L. Die Incunabeln der deutschen Lithographien (1796-1821) ; Nissen ZBI, 2792; Schmidtler, J. F. (2006). Merrem’s (1790) „Beytraege zur Geschichte der Amphibien“ - eine neue Ära in der Methodik der Schlangen-Darstellung ; Vanzolini I, pp. 9-10, 26, 44. Not in the Crane Library. Not in Wood.