[FORSTER, Jacob]. ~ Catalogue raisonné d’une collection de minéraux, cristallisations, pétrifications, coquilles, et autres objets d’histoire naturelle; dont la vente se sera le lundi 21 février 1780, & jours suivans, á l’Hôtel d’Aligre, rue Saint-Honoré; la feuille de distribution des différents articles qui composent ce catalogue, se délivera quelques jours avant la vente. Paris: Didot jeune, 1780.
8vo (210 × 140 mm), pp. x, 221, , including final table and errata leaf. Several leaves deliberately folded at corners. Uncut in original marbled wrappers. Spine mostly perished, but an appealing unsophisticated copy.
First edition of a very rare catalogue of an auction of minerals, fossils and shells including 36 lots of exotic shells from New Zealand and the South Seas.
The sale was held by the noted dealer Adolarius Jacob Forster (1739–1806), a Prussian of Scots origin, trading in Paris, London and St Petersburg, capitalising on the vogue for cabinets of curiosities. There are 1708 lots, including large numbers of crystals and minerals of British origin (Derbyshire and Staffordshire, in particular), rare fossils and nearly 100 lots of exotic shells. The first of the conchological lots is a rare and perfect specimen of Éperon royal [Trochus] from New Holland, four inches at the base and two-and-half inches high. Two lesser specimens of the same shell follow, plus 34 specimens described with origins in New Zealand. The Avertissment points out the the rarity of some of the new species coming from the newly-discovered Australian and South Sea territories since the discoveries of Captain Cook and others.
Forster was well placed as a source for these new Antipodean discoveries: likely being a relative of Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg, who both travelled as natural historians with Cook on the Resolution, amassing the famous collection now at Goettingen. Jacob is known to have handled and owned Cook specimens, and this catalogue is an enlightening record of the extent of his Pacific acquisitions.
There appear to have been at least two issues of this catalogue. The Bibliothèque nationale and Smithsonian copies (both digitised) have the Table and errata leaf, unpaginated, bound after the Avertissement. In ours this leaf appears at the end with the pagination ‘221’ added. They appear to be otherwise identical. Worldcat: Smithsonian and Royal Geological Society only outside continental Europe (the BU copy listed is actually a digitisation).