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Jean-Claude De La Métherie
Théorie de la terre,

8, 500 

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“Man is a monkey perfected by society.”

First edition of the Théorie de la terre by La Métherie.

A precious and very beautiful copy,
preserved in its contemporary red morocco binding.


De La Métherie, Jean-Claude. Théorie de la terre.
Paris, Maradan, 1795.

3 parts in 3 volumes 8vo [192 x 120 mm] of : I/ XVI pp., 422 pp., (1) l. for the portrait and 2 folding plates ; II/ VIII pp., 456 pp., 2 folding plates ; III/ VIII pp., 471 pp., 3 folding plates.

Red morocco, triple gilt fillets on covers, floral ornaments in the corners, flat spine richly decorated with floral ornaments, gilt fillets and frieze, lettering pieces in lemon morocco, double gilt fillets on leading edges, inner gilt roll-stamp, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.

Rare first edition of La Théorie de la terre de La Métherie.

Brunet, VI, 4568 ; Quérard, IV, 495 ; Desessarts, IV, 366.

The C. De la Métherie has published a complete text on the theory of the Earth. His objective is to prove that the formation of the whole universe, and of our planet in particular, is due to a general organization operated by election choices. The book contains an infinity of details and curious and interesting facts on the elements and the different natural bodies. He examines all the systems published before him on the theory of the Earth.” (Leçons élémentaires d’histoire naturelle, L. Cotte)

When men only had passions or feelings, they mostly preoccupied themselves with the heavens and imaginary spaces, from which they drew only errors ; since developing their rationality, they preoccupy themselves with the earth at their feet and have garnered truths of practical and certain use : this is the first reflection issued from the quantity of exact notions and precise facts present in this book. One could call it the Anatomy of the terrestrial globe. In the first volume, he concerns himself with the different kinds of crystallization and with the figure of the Earth (…). The second contains ample details on composite and volcanic rocks, caverns, lakes, seas, currents… In the third we find the complete history of the formation of the mountains, valleys, the flora and the fauna. This book’s principal merit is to assemble a great quantity of facts ; it has become a classic in the study of the mineralogy of the Earth.” (L’Esprit des journaux, Mars et Avril 1795)

Editor of the « Journal de physique » from 1785 to 1817, La Métherie (1743-1817) developed a unified system according to which all of the bodies of nature, living organisms included, are the product of the crystallization of water. The different aspects of the continents’ surface are also due to the effects of crystallization, like the precipitation of crystals at the bottom of a beaker containing a saturated liquid.

He was the first to affirm that oxygen is not the acids’ main principle.

Lavoisier approved of him late in his life.

La Métherie had quite an influence on his contemporaries.

We should give the author credit for his innovative vision of the evolution of living species, and of mankind in particular, considered like a monkey perfected by society.

A precious and very beautiful copy preserved in its contemporary red morocco binding.

No copy has been recorded on the market since the beginning of the surveys, more than 35 years ago (ABPC).

Provenance : Library of oryctologica of Paul Marie Cogels, distinguished geologist and bibliophile, with ex-libris.


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