Tentamen Herpetologiae

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Tentamen Herpetologiae

By Klein, Jacob Theodor

SKU# 18039

$ 6,000.00

Pp. (i)-iv, (1)-72; 2 monochrome foldout copper-plate engravings by Jan Wandelaar (unsigned).  One-half red morocco leather over marbled boards, sm 4to (20 cm width x 26.7 cm height), bound by Fritz and Trudi of Philadelphia in 1976.  This is Klein’s best-known work to herpetologists because in it he was the first to use the word for their discipline (herpetology, specifically, Herpeta in the nominative case on page 1 and herpetologiae in the objective case on page 1 and the title page).  However, his taxonomic reference to this word was far different than the use of the word today.  For instance, the animals making up the Herpeta included are legless animals such as earthworms, tapeworms and leeches in addition to snakes.  Left out are the four-legged frogs, toads, lizards.  There is only one reptile illustrated in this book (on plate 1).  However, it is not a snake but instead a two-legged, lizard-like animal possessing large hind limbs.  Klein had not seen this specimen and simply cited the authority of Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704), a German orientalist.  Starting in 1999 this image was incorporated into the official logo of the International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpetology.  The author’s preface was dated February 5, 1752, so there likely a delay in printing the book.  As an addendum (pages 67-72), Klein included an essay on tapeworms by Johann August Unzer, a German physician who trained in Halle and practiced medicine in Hamburg (modified after notes by Kraig Adler).  This addition fits the theme of Klein’s concept of the Herpeta. See also Agassiz 1853, 3: 366 (9); BMNH 2: 992; Engelmann 1846: 428; Nissen ZBI: 227 (2210) and Zool. Soc. London 1902: 336.  This volume is very scarce; it seldom comes up for sale.  Old small oval stamp with the following initials “T. L., B.M.P.” on the title page. From the research library of herpetologist Kraig Adler with his signature on the title page and his small bookplate on the front pastedown.

Publisher Eliam Luzac
Publisher Place Leidae & Gottingae (=Leiden and Gottingen)
Date Published 1755
Date Published Estimated No
Edition First edition
Number of Volumes 1
Reprint No
Condition Near fine
Condition Description A touch of light foxing to the title page and to the margins of a few other pages; a bright and clean copy in near fine condition in a very attractive binding.
Limited Edition