Le Cabinet du Jeune Naturaliste ou Tableaux Intéressantes de l'Histoire des Animaux
Price: 2,850.00 AUD
Paris: Maradan, 1810. Six volumes, octavo, engraved frontispiece and title to each volume, 65 engraved plates; uncut, in original bright pink wrappers with original paper spine labels. The first French edition of Thomas Smith's delightful natural history for young people: an immaculate set, in completely original condition. Gumuchian reports that this original edition was such a success that successive editions appeared in the years that followed. This production stands apart from other juvenile natural history primers for the fineness of its engravings, which are of exceptional quality. Some four hundred and thirty species of fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds are described, sixty-five of which are illustrated, providing a fascinating cross-section of the contemporary interest in zoos and menageries, with many of the animals shown in less than natural settings (the orangutan is having a cup of tea, for example). Despite this, there are an impressive number of what would have been the very newest exotic animals to arrive in France, including an Indian elephant, and the notes are more than mere newspaper reportage, showing that Smith was well versed in the literature on the subject. In this vein, the description of 'le kanguro' is interesting because it records and describes a number of live specimens in Europe, including those at the royal gardens at Richmond, 'un couple de très beaux kanguros' at an exposition at Exeter-Change of 1806 (the famous menagerie and a London landmark), as well as 'une très belle variété' which had arrived in England on the frigate Lady Barlow. The description is accompanied by an engraving of a man boxing a kangaroo. Fine.