Les Observations de Plusieurs Singularitez et Choses Memorables, trouvées en Grèce, Asie, Judée, Egypte, Arabie, & autres pays estranges, Rédigées en trois livres. Reveuz de rechef, & augmentez de figures, avec une nouvelle Table de toutes les matieres traictées en iceux. Les observations de plusieurs singularitez & choses memorables, trouvées en Grèce, Asie, Judée, Egypte, Arabie, & autres pays estranges, Rédigées en trois livres. Reveuz de rechef, & augmentez de figures, avec une nouvelle Table…

Belon, Pierre.

Book ID: 27520


8vo. [12 leaves], 468 pp., [2], (errors in pagination), woodcut device on title, portrait of Belon, 45 woodcut illustrations in text, 2 plans, missing folding map, + Une lettre manuscrite du President du Comite pour la souscription pour l’érection de la statue de Pierre Belon solicitant Mr. Jourlet pharmacien à Chinon le 15 mars 1885 + Le livret de souscription contenant la biographie de Belon [8 pp], later mid-18th century fleuron gilted French full calf binding, marbled endpapers, previous owner’s inscription on title page, light damp stain to margin of few pages, scattered foxing and darkening, otherwise in good condition, Hierosme de Marnef & Guillaume Cavellat, Paris, 1588.


Pierre Belon (1517-64) was one of the first explorer-naturalists. “He spent three years travelling in the Levant, from 1546 to 1549. His journey was inspired by a desire to see the plants and medicinal substances of which he had read, but his travels through Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt and the Holy Land resulted in observations more than merely botanical, in a most remarkable work which discusses the antiquities, customs and manners of the countries Belon visited, as well as the natural history.” (Blackmer). The information he supplies on the people, way of life and natural history of the Near East is remarkable for its accuracy and objectivity. “His was the most documented account of the Levant which had appeared up to that time in French. Of importance is his description of Cairo after 30 years of Turkish occupation…” (Blackmer).
Although Belon was trained as a pharmacist, he experienced life in the Eastern Mediterranean as a member of a diplomatic mission to the East. Gabriel d’Aramon, French Ambassador to Istanbul from 1547 to 1554, took with him the archaeologist Pierre Giles together with Pierre Belon and they were later joined by the founding figure in European Arabic studies, Guillaume Postel, and the King’s cosmographers André Thévet and Nicolas de Nicolay. The remarkable books published by these great writers and travellers provided Europeans with more accurate information on the Near East than had been available before.
The “Observations..” was first published in 1553, the second edition in 1554. The second edition is a much more sumptuous production than the first. The woodcut title, the portrait of Belon, the folding map of Mt. Sinai and the head and tail pieces first appear in the second edition. The illustrations of the natural history specimens in the letterpress are the same in both editions. Later editions appeared in 1555 and 1588.
Apart from the “Observations”, Belon wrote a number of other works, which contributed greatly to the progress of natural sciences in the 16th century. These included two works containing information on the specimens he collected during his journey: one concerning wild life and people, “Portrait d’Oyseau, animaux etc…” published in Paris in 1557, the other, “De Arbotius Coniferis, resiniferis etc…” on trees published in Paris in 1553. Bibliographic references: Brunet, I, 762. DSB, I, 595-596; Hilmy, I, 61; Tobler, pp. 72-73; Blackmer 115 (second edition).

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