VERY RARE COMPLETE SET, WITH 141 LITHOGRAPHED FOLIO PLATES.
Complete set of the monograph, including the rare first volume, with a total of 141 beautiful lithographed plates (some colored) after drawings by the author, biologist-artist Ernst Haeckel, based on his microscopic observations of radiolarian species.
“Radiolarians are an ancient group of single-celled organisms that have existed since the Proterozoic eon in Precambrian time… Radiolarians are free-swimming protozoa that occur in all the world’s oceans. They are microscopically small, with only some forms reaching a few millimetres in size. Although related to amoebas… radiolarians frequently possess a spherical or helmet-like skeleton whose diversity of form fascinated the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel” (Olaf Breidbach, Ernst Haeckel: Art Forms from the Ocean: The Radiolarian Atlas of 1862).
“At the end of November , with just a few months left for his research in Italy, Haeckel finally decided to focus on just one group of animals, the almost unknown radiolaria. …. Initially Haeckel prepared a report on his radiolarian work, which [Wilhelm Peters] presented to the [Berlin Academy of Sciences]… All of this was reiterated, with an elaboration of the systematics of the known species, in Haeckel’s Habilitationsschrift, rendered into Latin and completed in 1861. Yet neither the readers of the academy report nor of the Habilitationsschrift would have been prepared for the large two-volume monograph Haeckel produced in 1862… The first two of these exercises announced a scholar of competence and promise; the latter showed the promise already brilliantly fulfilled. The monograph — which so astonished Darwin and which would be awarded the prestigious Cothenius gold medal of the Leopold-Caroline Academy of German Natural Scientists… displayed through its over 570 pages of the first volume and the 35 copper plates of the second many extraordinary features.
“First of all, with his discoveries Haeckel increased by almost half the number of known species of radiolarian. Second, he provided the most careful description of the distinguishing characteristics of the skeletons and soft parts, including extraordinarily exact measurements. He employed, though, some rough models in this effort: he would stud a potato with rods to get the perspective correct, and then allow his painterly eye to take over. The technique yielded not only amazingly precise but beautiful depictions… [O]f considerable significance, he attempted to arrange his species into a ‘natural system’ based on homology…
“Haeckel said he was inspired to attempt a natural system because of the extraordinary book he had read while preparing his specimens, [the German translation of Darwin’s Origin of Species]… [T]he zeal of [Haeckel’s] conviction [for Darwin’s theory] never cooled...
“What kept Haeckel’s enthusiasm for evolutionary theory glowing was the special contribution he thought he could make, namely, to establish it empirically” (Richards, Robert J., The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought).
“Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiolaria). Eine Monographie” (1862); with id., “Zwitter Theil” and “Dritter und Vierter Theil” (1887-88). Four folio (approx. 11x15 inches) volumes bound in three, the original (1862) text and plates in a late 20th-century three-quarter morocco; the 1887-88 volumes in contemporary half cloth over the publisher’s printed boards. (Although the 1862 text and plates were published in separate volumes, they were apparently treated as parts of a single volume for purposes of numbering the 1887-88 publications, which are described as the second, third, and fourth volumes of the monograph.) Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1862; 1887, 1888. Cloth spines on 1887/88 volumes faded. Very handsome copies, with text and plates exceptionally clean.
A SCARCE SET, COMPLETE WITH ALL FOUR VOLUMES.
Price: $9,500 .