London: Blackie & Son, Limited, circa 1900.
Thirteenth Edition. Hardcover. "I should feel pleased were this study to be looked upon as the peristyle of the temple in which lie hidden the mysterious splendours of Nature, and if it were the means of inspiring some with a desire to penetrate into the sanctuary itself, and uplift the veil which conceals them..." So introduces F. A. Pouchet his "Universe," a dazzling encyclopedia of natural history for the layperson, full of section titles sure to delight: "The Invisible World," "The Architects of the Sea," "The Nuptials of Plants," "Cataclysms and Upheavals of the Globe," "The Sidereal Universe." The Universe covers the animal and vegetable kingdoms, geology, the cosmos, and, a personal favorite, “Popular Errors,” a section devoted to monsters and superstitions, like dragons and sea-serpents, all illustrated in 270 engravings on wood from drawings, botanical illustrations by Auguste Faguet, the zoological by Mesnel, and landscapes by Emile Bayard (of Les Mis fame), along with four brightly colored lithographic plates introduced in the Twelfth Edition. Félix-Archimède Pouchet (1800-1872) was a scientist and student of natural history, unfortunately remembered today not for his accomplishments in the field of cytology or as director of the Rouen Museum of Natural History, but for his staunch opposition to (and mockery of) Louis Pasteur’s germ theory. Talwin Morris (1865-1911), the artist behind this stunning publisher’s binding, was an influential book designer of the Victorian era, discarding the popular narrative bindings of the period for the modern, Art Noveau style as evidenced here in his skilled use of line, curve, and decoration. The Universe is laid out for your perusal, here in Pouchet’s gloriously illustrated layperson’s encyclopedia of natural history, bound in the original, stunningly embossed and gilt-stamped publisher’s cloth designed by Talwin Morris.
8 7/8" X 6 3/8". xvi, 564pp. No date, circa 1900. Binding designed by Talwin Morris, with his initials to bottom right corner. Burgundy cloth over boards, lavishly stamped in gilt and black, with golden sun rising behind a twisting tree surrounded by birds, below which swim fish all to upper board, with spine lettered in gilt and stamped in gilt and black with butterflies and water lilies, and prize insignia of the School Board for London stamped in gilt to rear board. Moderate edgewear to binding, with mild bumping, small tears, and fraying to corners and head and tail of spine, including half-inch tear to cloth at top edge of outer front hinge. Slight lean to spine. All edges gilt. Hinges quite firm, though binding feels a touch shaken. School Board for London prize bookplate to front pastedown, awarded to one Arthur Williamson for punctuality in 1900. Binding remains sound. Occasional light foxing to pages throughout, else unmarked. Illustrated throughout in 270 engravings on wood from drawings by A. Faguet, Mesnel, and Emile Bayard, with four brightly colored plates. Very good. Item #5711