A rare work with a complex history

Conrad, T. A.

Fossils of the Tertiary formations of the United States. Illustrated by figures, drawn from nature. [Fossils of the Medial Tertiary of the United States 1-2; Fossils of the Miocene formation of the United States 3-[4].]

Published 1832-1835
Item ID 74969

excl. VAT

Philadelphia, PA, J. Dobson, 1838-1861. Four parts in one. 8vo (23.1 x 14.2 cm). xvi, 89 pp; 52 plates (numbered 1-32, 34-49 [Plates 3, 7, 11, and 19 in two widely different states; 24-25, 46-47 without number; 48 wrongly numbered 47, 33 not used]). 20th-century red buckram with gilt title on the spine. Original brown, printed wrappers bound in.

A rare and complicated work, published in parts over a very long period. On the wrappers, the title was changed half way. Its title is confusingly similar to Conrad’s earlier (1832-1835) Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations of North America, Illustrated by Figures, Drawn on Stone, from Nature, from which it also took a few engravings. Four plates (plates, 3, 9, 11, 19) are in first and second edition – in the first three, the copper engravings by Lesueur being replaced with widely different lithographs. In Plate 11 this is an improvement, but in the other two the replacing plates generally show less detail, although the second Plate 3 shows a useful additional umbonal view. The fourth plate (Plate 19) was first erroneously numbered 18, and had five figures fewer (both plates 19 are lithographs). Since these second edition plates are so different, we have counted them separately, bringing the plate total from 48 to 52. Plate 24, printed by Lohman & Duval, may be a second edition, as it is more detailed than an unsigned Plate 24 in another copy. Plate 33 was never issued. There is no reference in the text to this plate. Sabin errs in listing 49 plates, not noting the absence of Plate 33. The presence of the first rear wrappers is essential, as they contain descriptions of new species not printed elsewhere. The R. I. Johnson copy. The American malacologist and malaco-historian Richard Irwin Johnson (1925-2020) inserted a collation of this work of utter rarity - especially with the wrappers present - and added the missing pp. 81-88 in copy. These pages form the text of the last part, which is doubtlessly the rarest part. We have seen one other copy - also with these text leaves absent. Johnson noted, in 1979, that "no copy of this work has appeared in catalogues in the past 40 years". Neither was there any in the following 44 years. We found no auction records. Damp-stain and some foxing to pp. 23-32 and Plates 12-17 in Part 1; text of Part 4 in photostat, as noted. Otherwise a very good, complete copy. Caprotti II, pp. 17-18 [181-182]; Sabin, 15902. Not in Nissen.

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