Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Ichnographs From the Sandstone of the Connecticut River [W/ 46 PLATES, INCLUDING 22 ORIGINAL SALT PRINT PHOTOGRAPHS]

Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1861. First edition. Hardcover. Large quarto. 61pp. + 46 plates. Black textured buckram boards, with blind-stamping ruling on the covers and gilt lettering on the front. This fascinating and notable work of natural history and early paleontology, is considered the culmination of decades of study on the subject of prehistoric dinosaur Ichnographs (fossilized footprints), found in the Connecticut River Valley. It is profusely illustrated, containing a total of 83 individual images including photographs and lithographs visually documenting these fossils. It is considered the second American book of a scientific nature to be illustrated with photographs*.

Starting in 1802 the Connecticut River Valley increasingly became a hotbed for the discovery of evidence of prehistoric life, and one of the first remarkable areas of its kind in North America. In 1835 a group of fossilized impressions were discovered in prehistoric sandstone uncovered in the town of Greenfield, Massachusetts (along the Connecticut River). They were subsequently investigated by a number of academics, including most notably Amherst College geology professor Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864), and the author of this work, physician and naturalist James Deane (1801-1858), who was a neighbor of the initial discoverer. The two men engaged in a long feud over who should get credit for the initial discovery. Deane studied these footprints for decades, and published numerous papers on the subject starting in 1844. He died before he could complete this work, his ultimate and comprehensive statement on the subject, in 1858, and it was posthumously published three years later, with editing and compiling work by his friend and colleague Thomas T. Bouve (1815-1896) of the Boston Society of Natural History, and contributions from others including Hitchcock.

The initial sections of this text contain introductory remarks from American naturalist Augustus A. Gould (1805-1866), biographical notice on the late author by American physician and a prominent Christian abolitionist Henry Ingersoll Bowditch (1808-1892), a list of Deane's published papers, and a note from compiler Thomas T. Bouve. Following these sections is Deane's "memoir" discussing the history of the discovery and academic study of the footprints to date, and then the full descriptive text for the plates. The final section of the 46 numbered plates contains a total of 83 individual images (some plates contain multiple figures) reproducing the ichnographs. Deane "chose the best defined and most characteristic specimens", 61 of which are finely printed brown-hued lithographs (4 are large double-page spreads) printed by T. Sinclair of Philadelphia. The other 22 images are original mounted b/w salt-print photographs. No photographer is credited.

Although Hitchcock, Deane and others rightly recognized these as the footprints of large prehistoric animals, most of the texts on the subject during the initial era of study referred to them as belonging to forms of large ancient birds and reptiles. It was not until much later that they were recognized as the tracks of a number of species, including the bipedal therapod dinosaur Eubrontes (Eubrontes giganteus) and the sauropod dinsoaur species Otozoum. Here the term dinosaur appears nowhere in the text.

This important work in the early history of modern paleontology in North America was published at a transitional time in the evolution of the field as a distinct science within the realm of natural history. In 1842, pioneering British naturalist Sir Richard Owen first coined the term "dinosaur", and the term was only starting to become commonplace. For context, it was William Parker Foulke's pivotal discovery of the Hadrosaurus, only three years earlier in 1858, which unequivocally set the study of dinosaurs in North America into motion. Also, it was only two years before this publication, in 1859, that Darwin published "The Origin of Species", changing biology and life sciences forever, and becoming the subject of enormous controversy.

Binding with very minor rubbing and bumping to corners, and the front hinge of the spine. Light sunning to the spine and the back cover. An ex-library copy with bookplate pasted on the interior front cover, a perforated stamp on the title page and the top margins of pages 20 and 57. Red ink stamps on the verso of every plate in the final section. Light smudges and stains to the endpapers. Starting at the gutters of the interior front cover and title-page have been somewhat reinforced. Book block still overall quite tight. Plates with foxing, mostly confined to the margins, and images still clean and vibrant. Binding and interior in very good- condition overall. vg-. Item #53405

* An earlier work on the very same subject, "Remarks on Some Fossil Impressions in the Sandstone Rocks of the Connecticut River" (1854), by John C. Warren, was the first published book to contain a photograph of a fossil, and only the second American book to contain a photograph of any kind. (Warren's earlier publication is briefly mentioned in passing on p.19).

Price: $4,500.00

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