Antique French Science Books, Four Volumes, Les Merveilles De La Science, by Louis Figuier, 1868, in French, Leather


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Antique French Science Books, Four Volumes, Les Merveilles De La Science ou Description Populaire Des Inventions Modernes, by Louis Figuier, 1868, in French, Leather
Furne, Jouvet et Cie, Paris,

Four volumes in this antique science book. In French. Leather bound. In good condition for age. See pictures for more evidence of condition. More pictures for serious buyers.


Louis Figuier, a French science writer, was born Feb. 15, 1819. Figuier was a professional writer, which means he had to write to eat, and he must have eaten well, because he wrote a ton of books, really good books. We displayed his book on prehistoric life, La terre avant le deluge (1863), in our Paper Dinosaurs exhibition, and his L’homme primitif (1870) in our Blade and Bone exhibition.
But today we feature a Figuier work called Les merveilles de la science, ou description populaire des inventions modernes (The Marvels of Science, etc.); it occupied four quarto volumes plus two supplements, and was published between 1867 and 1891. Each volume contained a series of chapters with titles like “Steam engines” or “Electrical Machines” or “Hot-Air Balloons,” and within each chapter, there was a full discussion of not only present-day technology, but the complete history of each invention. And every contributor or significant event, it seems, merited a wood-engraving. So not only is Les merveilles de la science one of the first histories of technology, but it contains what are often the very first visual reconstructions of important technological events and their inventors. There are hundreds of these images, so it was hard to pick just four for this occasion (leaving room for the illustrated title page (second image) and Figuier’s frontispiece portrait (sixth image).

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