Précis des découvertes et travaux somiologiques de Mr. C. S. Rafinesque-Schmaltz, entre 1800 et 1814 … en Zoologie et en Botanique, pour servir d'introduction à ses ouvrages futurs. [With:] Circular Address on Botany and Zoology; followed by the prospectus of two periodical works, Annals of Nature and Somiology of North America. Constantine Rafinesque.
Précis des découvertes et travaux somiologiques de Mr. C. S. Rafinesque-Schmaltz, entre 1800 et 1814 … en Zoologie et en Botanique, pour servir d'introduction à ses ouvrages futurs. [With:] Circular Address on Botany and Zoology; followed by the prospectus of two periodical works, Annals of Nature and Somiology of North America.

Précis des découvertes et travaux somiologiques de Mr. C. S. Rafinesque-Schmaltz, entre 1800 et 1814 … en Zoologie et en Botanique, pour servir d'introduction à ses ouvrages futurs. [With:] Circular Address on Botany and Zoology; followed by the prospectus of two periodical works, Annals of Nature and Somiology of North America.

Palermo; Philadelphia: printed for the author, 1814; 1816. Near-contemporary blue leather-backed marbled paper-covered boards, spine gilt. 55, [1]; 36 pp. 2 works in one volume. 12mo (136 x 92mm).

First editions of both works. Two rare and early works by the polymath naturalist Constantine Rafinesque (1783–1840), born in Constantinople and raised in Marseilles, though his name is forever associated with American botany, zoology, and linguistics. After an American apprenticeship, Rafinesque lived in Palermo from 1805 to 1815 and published classifications of new plants and animals in Sicily. The first title, printed in Palermo, reviews his work during the preceding decade and “serves as an introduction to his future works.” The second title, his first publication in America, announces an ambitious serial publication to record the natural history of North America. Rafinesque’s Florula Ludoviciana (1817) provoked controversy and a hostile reception.

“Rafinesque’s ‘natural’ system, adapted from French prototypes developed by Michel Adanson and Antoine de Jussieu, grouped plants according to their perceived morphological relationships, a system that prevailed by the middle of the century … But his life's work was totally ignored by his contemporaries, most of whom agreed with fellow botanist L.D. von Schweinitz, who wrote in 1832 that ‘he is doubtless a man of immense knowledge — as badly digested as may be & crack-brained I am sure’ … His reputation was rehabilitated about the middle of the twentieth century when it was acknowledged by most botanists that most of Rafinesque's 6,700 Latin plant names had been validly published according to rules since adopted by the botanists themselves” (ANB).

Rafinesque, who is also well known for his work on the fishes of the Ohio and his studies of the mound-builders of the Ohio valley, was an early observer of the impermanence of species. Darwin cited him in Origin of Species (6th ed.) as one of three American naturalists who recognized that "species undergo modification."

REFERENCES: Sabin 67448; Eberstadt 138-604; Meisel III, p. 377; BM Nat. Hist. p. 1638.

CONDITION: Upper joint split but holding, infrequent light foxing.

Offered in partnership with James Cummins, Bookseller.

Item #3504

Price: $8,000.00

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