Paris: Briasson, 1742. Two parts in one. 4to. xvi, 163; 91,  pp. FIRST EDITION. With half-tile to second part, approbation and errata. With engraved chapter vignettes and 60 folding plates. Contemporary tree calf, elaborate gilt-decorated spine (slightly chipped at head and foot); endpapers printed in purple floral pattern, occasional browning in text and on edges of plates, heavier on preliminaries. Contemporary signature of Dav. Christoph. Schobingen M.D. on flyleaf, and bookplate on front paste-down, contemporary annotations to the errata leaf, possibly for a later edition. From the Furstenberg library at Donaueschingen. Item #5102
First edition. This indispensable manual of paleontology was the earliest of its kind to be published in French. It consists of two parts; the first is a compilation of letters relating to Bourguet's previous work, Lettres philosophiques, wherein he compares the processes of the mineral world, such as crystallization, to processes of the living world. The second part contains an atlas of sixty exquisite plates of fossils, including those unearthed by the author mostly from Switzerland or taken from the works of Lang and Scheuchzer. The illustrations are accompanied by concise explanatory text, a comprehensive bibliography of paleontology, and a list of international areas where fossils have been found.
Bourguet (1678-1742), affectionately referred to among his friends as the Pliny of Neuchâtel, traveled extensively, constantly adding to his store of knowledge and collection of specimens and fossils. He sought to arrange all mineral and organic species in a single line, from the simplest to the most complex, illustrating the concept of the Great Chain of Being. He had many correspondents, including Leibniz, and played an important role in the diffusion of ideas at the time.