Antiquarian Auctions

Auction #64 begins on
25 Jan 2018 16:30 GMT

Pierre Barrere

Essai sur l'histoire naturelle de la France Equinoxiale (1741)

This scarce natural history, zoology and botany book has an alphabetical listing of the plants, minerals, and animal life of Guiana. Entries include French, Latin, and Indian names as well as providing explanations of significance and uses. First edition copy we are offering here rarely appears on the market.

Published: Chez Piget, Paris, 1741

Edition: First Edition

Reserve: $500


Estimate: $800-1000

Bidding opens: 25 Jan 16:30 GMT

Bidding closes: 1 Feb 16:30 GMT

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"Essai sur l'histoire naturelle de la France equinoxiale, ou Denombrement des Plantes, des Animaux & des Mineraux, qui se trouvent dans l'Isle de Cayenne, les Isles de Remire, sur les Cotes de la Mer, & dans le Continent de la Guyane. Avec leurs noms differens, Latins, Francois, & Indiens, & quelques Observations sur leur usage dans la Medecine & dans les Arts."

Paris, Chez Piget, 1741. First edition. Contemporary full leather binding. 17 x 10 cm. Colation complet - xxiv, 315 [i.e. 215], [7] pp. Text in French. First edition copy we are offering here rarely appears on the market - last time has been sold on an auction by Sotheby's in 1971, and later only once offered on an auction (again by Sotheby's in 2009, with an estimation of GBP 2.500 - 3.000, not sold). Only 5 copies of this first edition catalogued worldwide (1 copy in Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2 copies in Switzerland and 2 copies in Denmark). 

Binding is tight and firm, with some scuffings and little chipped to the top of the spine, overall in very good condition. Text block/pages with some yellowing and light foxing, overall in very good condition, but there are also wetting aureoles (traces of wetting) throughout the book at the bottom of the pages (only in the margin, not on the text). Overall the condition is Very Good.

"Reptile called the Matamata (Chelus fimbriatus) first came to the attention of European explorers around 1730. The first time that the species was however described was by Pierre Barrere (1690-1755) in his work “Essai sur l’histoire naturelle de la France equinoxiale, ou Denombrement des plantes, des animaux et des mineraux qui se trouvent dans l’isle de Cayenne, les isles de Remire, sur les cotes de la mer et dans le continent de la Guyane” (1741; page 165). This Latin text describes the appearance habits of the Matamata that Barrere obtained on his journeys to Guyana and represents the oldest European description of Matamata. He calls it “Testudo terrestris, major putamine echinato, & striato” basically this is saying it is a terrestrial tortoise with an echinate shell that is striated. Again by terrestrial he means not oceanic." (From "Reptile Names: Nomenclature, Taxonomy and Systematics of Reptiles" -

  • Binding Condition: Very good
  • Overall Condition: Good
  • Size: 17 x 10 cm

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