The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne in the County of Southampton, with Engravings and an Appendix.WHITE, Gilbert
London: Printed by T. Bensley for B. White and son.. 1789.
First edition. 4to (256 x 200 mm.), pp. [iii-v], 430, 431-468,  including errata leaf. With 7 engraved plates by Peter Mazell and Daniel Lerpinire after Samuel Grimm, 2 folding, one of which is a panoramic view of Selbourne, and 2 section titles each with an engraved vignette. Bound in Tenby by J Treble Booksellers with their ticket. Contemporary Russia in diced pattern. Upper and lower covers with gilt ruled borders and gilt decoration between the sets of ruled lines. Additionally, there is blind tooling running alongside the gilt decoration forming a "shadow" effect. Gilt decorations to all four corners. Rebacked with most of the original spine laid down. Spine has four raised bands, five compartments. Bands and head and foot decorated with gilt diamond pattern between gilt triple lines. Marbled endpapers and decorative gilt dentelles. Corners bumped. All edges gilt. A very good copy in a handsome provincial binding. The contents are in excellent condition showing only modest foxing. Plates, all of which are present, are protected by tissue paper. There is the usual jump in pagination from pp.440-443 but all the pages are present.
First edition of both a classic of English literature and a milestone in natural history. With unique masterly exploitation of the full literary potential of the epistolary style, White's letters to Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington give a remarkable account of the main examples of the species and habits of animals, and of natural phenomena which he observed daily for twenty years in the parish of Selborne. The details of incessant and meticulous observations are constantly uplifted in far-sighted remarks, which not only expound the groundbreaking naturalistic scope of White's work, but engross the reader in White's generous spirit of research and turn the author into a valuable, familiar journey companion.