Erpétologie générale

Erpétologie générale, ou, Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles, by André Marie Constant Duméril (1774-1860), with contributions from Gabriel Bibron and August Henri André Duméril. Published in 1854 in Paris.

This is the atlas of plates from a five-volume book on herpetology. Many are hand-colored. I was drawn to the quality of the plates and of the coloring (another testament to the competence of the tradesmen in 19th-century Paris), but also to the volume itself as an object. Each leaf of the volume, including a number of pages of text at the beginning, has been painstakingly glued to a guard, which is a strip of paper sewn into the binding. This is common for plates, but unusual for text, which came in large sheets from the printer and was usually folded down and sewn as signatures -- much easier and more logical to do this than to cut the pages out and glue them individually onto guards.

Also interestingly, some plates are much smaller than others, which suggests that either they were made smaller for some reason, or they were bound into another volume, which was cut to a smaller size, which was then subsequently pulled to pieces, with some or all of its parts integrated into the current volume. This latter explanation could explain the text pages being glued onto the guards, if the person who deconstructed the first volume simply (lazily?) cut off the old binding.

The result is a volume that lays flat on every page, with occasional short plates. I decided to scan the plates as spreads, even though there isn't anything on the backside of the plates, just because I liked it so much.

The files below are 300 dpi reductions of 600dpi scans, averaging about 2.5mb each.


Unless otherwise noted, all writing and imagery is copyright © 2008-2012 Chronophobia/Andrew McCormick. Use of Chronophobia images is permitted for all personal and educational purposes; for commercial licensing, please contact Andrew: am (at) chronophobia (dot) com.

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