Bertrand, Elie; Dictionnaire Universel des Fossiles Propres, et des Fossiles Accidentels. Contenant une Description Des Terres. Avignon, Louis Chambeau, Two parts in one volume, 1763. Octavo, p. xxxii, 283 & pp. 256.
The book is complete and in a contemporary full calf with raised spine bands, gilt tooled decorative spine titles, decorative text block edges, and marbled end sheets. Minor wear to binding edges, the text is bright and clean, owner’s name inked out on title page. In very good condition.
Bertrand (1712-1777) was a Swiss geologist and cleric. Over the course of his life and travels through the Alps, he built a private collection of minerals and fossils. Some of these specimens were illustrated in color in Schmiedel's "Erz Stufen und Berg Arten" published in1753. His above work is a comprehensive encyclopedia of the known minerals, gems, ores and fossils. After much discussion with Voltaire, Bertrand set about to create the most complete dictionary of fossils and associated minerals to date to aide the organization of collections. The work is considered by historians to be a seminal work in the history of paleontology. Definitions of each are provided and more importantly references are cited and in many cases statements from other works are used in comparison to provide the reader with conflicting view points thus making the work an invaluable reference on knowledge up to the mid 1700s. It is one of the first dictionaries of geology, treating fossils as both mineralogical and paleontological specimens. Within this study, Bertrand defines terms used in the 18th century study of Oryctology or all of the earth sciences including, mineralogy, crystallography, geology, paleontology, volcanology and seismology. For instance, within mineralogy Bertrand defines petroleum, sulfur, the earths, common and precious gems, minerals, metals, the various petrifications of animals and plants as well as their formation. These definitions are usually quite long and detailed which is a tribute to Bertrand's understanding of the subject.. Part one covers words beginning in A to L and part two completes the alphabet. The work was first published in the Hague and that same year in Avignon. While the text is identical and the same size text block was used, the title page varies and the Avignon printing deletes a reference to two volumes thus dropping the half title at page 285.