BUFFON, Georges Louis Marie Leclerc, Comte de (1707-1788). Les epoques de la nature. Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1780.
2 volumes. 12mo., (6 4/8 x 3 6/8 inches). Half-titles. 2 folding engraved maps: "Carte de la Chaine des Montagnes de Langres", and "Carte des Deus Regions Polaires", and 6 plates of teeth. Contemporary French mottled calf, the smooth spines gilt-ruled in six compartments, with a red morocco, gilt lettering piece extending over two, the others decorated with very fine gilt flower tools (shipped with minor loss at the head of the spines).
Provenance: near contemporary manuscript annotations to the rear paste-down of volume II; with the engraved bookseller's label of Paul Bard of Geneva on the front paste-down of volume one; with Jeremy Norman, his collation mark at the end of volume one.
First separate edition of Buffon's theory of the history of the earth, first published as the fifth volume of the supplement to his Histoire naturelle generale et particuliere, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi..., 1749-1804. The fine double-hemisphere map of the poles shows on the northern hemisphere, the north of North America, with the St. Lawrence River in the east and a broken coastline in the west; and on the southern, the tips of "Terres Magellaniques", "Terre de Diemen", and "N. Zelande" , along with the tracks of Captain Cook and other explorers.
Buffon was appointed keeper of the "Jardin du Roi", later the "Jardin des Plantes", and the collection connected with it, the "Cabinet du Roi" in 1739. He augmented the collection of birds exponentially, increasing it to more than 800 species gathered from all four corners of the globe. In 1765 at Buffon's direction, Martinet began drawing and painting the collection, and engraved the plates under the supervision of Edme Daubenton. In 1770 the first volume devoted to birds was published. Wellcome II, p.268; Norman 370.