Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux.
The most ambitious and comprehensive bird book
the most important of all birds books from the collector's point of view
BUFFON, G.L.M.L. Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux. Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1770-1786,
Prima edizione, tiratura su carta grande e distinta, 10 volumi in-folio con 973 stupende tavole disegnate e incise dal Martinet e colorate a mano
Large Paper Issue, 10 volumes, folio (468 x 330mm.), text within decorative borders, 973 fine handcoloured engraved plates, drawn and engraved by Franz Nicolaus Martinet under the supervision of Edme Daubenton, early 19th c. 3/4 green morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, spines divided into 7 compart-ments with gilt tooling or lettering, gilt edges. Without the 35 plates of insects as often.
“L'un des monuments les plus importants de l'histoire de l'ornithologie” (Ayer).
Anker 76-77: “Its popularity was primarily assured by Buffon's great literary ability which allowed him to present even the most difficult topics in such sparkling style, in such a universally understandable form, and so fascinating a manner that, as was said, even ladies found amusement in reading about them. The special merit of the work is principally due to the fact that. it was the first to create interest in Nature and natural history in wide circles”. Fine Bird Books, p.63: “This edition was certainly the most ambitious and comprehensive bird book which had appeared at the time of its publication and ranks still as one of the most important of all birds books from the collector's point of view”. Nissen IVB 158. Wood, p.267. Zimmer, pp.104-106. A large-paper copy of Buffon's masterpiece, and a cornerstone of ornithological literature. The plates, by Daubenton, were originally intended to illustrate one section of Buffon's massive Histoire naturelle générale, but this idea was abandoned owing to the limited number of impressions, and instead Buffon prepared the present special ten-volume edition of the ornithology to accompany the splendid coloured plates. The work was issued in four formats, the present copy being the most sumptuous: "grand in-folio avec les planches enluminées, en grand papier". Buffon was helped by Philippe Guéneau de Montbeillard (1720-1785) for the first six volumes, and by Abbé Gabriel Bexon (1748-1784) for the other four; in the course of production over eighty artists and assistants were engaged. An additional 35 plates depicting animals, reptiles, insects, and corals were produced at the same time, but they are not mentioned in the body of the text; it is common to find most sets without them (as in the present set).
The Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux is a new version of the text of the nine bird volumes of the first edition of the forty-four volume Histoire naturelle géné-rale, with the 1008 planches enluminées (including the 35 non-ornithological plates). As these finely hand-coloured plates were very expensive, their limited edition excluded them from the massive Hist.Générale (the printer had not enough plates to provide a set for each copy).
Buffon issued them in this luxurious folio format, greatly expanding the number of bird plates; a new set of 262 uncoloured plates of birds was engraved, which were used in some later small-format editions.
A perfect, immaculate, copy, finely bound by one of the most important bookbinding companies Sangorski & Sutcliffe, established in London in 1901.