One of the Greatest Illustrated Coloured Plate Books of all Time
Printed by R. Taylor and Co, London 1804 – 1806. The first two volumes of what would eventually become a five volume set.
Containing 200 stunning hand coloured engraved copper plates representing the first comprehensively illustrated reference on Mineralogy. Many of the plates have applied gum arabic which gives them a more intense image. Each plate has a strong plate impression and is engraved with the date of publication and the engravers name, Jas Sowerby, London.
Octavo xii, 223 and 199 pages plus corrigenda to each volume. Plates not included in the pagination, but all present. Plates bright and clean … a very good set. Binding half leather with original marbled paper covered boards. Re-backed well at some time with separate black leather title labels, volume number in gilt applied direct. Original end papers retained.
Volume I commences with a dedication to Sir Joseph Banks, as the “Grand Promoter of every Science connected with Natural History”. A three page Preface explaining the volumes to come. A “Sketch of a System for British Mineralogy” introducing the classifications of Combustibles (Homogeneous, Compound and Aggregate), Earth and Metals. Followed by certain “Observations on the System”. Each plate is followed by a two page description of the mineral depicted.
The work was originally issued in parts commencing with Volume I Number I in November 1802 which contained only the first four plates. Subsequent issues came out monthly with a similar number of plates, so Volume II was not complete until December 1806. Full sets of five volumes are very rare and respected reference … Mineralogical Record Volume 26 Number 4 (Mineral Books) suggests there are less than 100 and is aware of only 50 as at 1995.
Carries the bookplate of John Thomas Stanley (1766-1860) who was technically the first Baron Stanley of Alderley in the County of Chester, England. We say technically as his family had been Baron Stanley since 1485 … but titled Earl of Derby. The Stanley’s were bestowed the Baronetcy of Alderley Hall from 1660 and later collected Baron Sheffield, Baron Stanley of Alderley and Baron Eddisbury … presumably only one “Sir” applies. At the time of the bookplate John Thomas was a simple Esquire as his father, also John Thomas was the then Baron. He died in 1807 … so we can be very sure that our John Thomas was the first owner of these special volumes.