Principles of Geology

Charles LYELL

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LYELL, Charles. Principles of Geology. London: John Murray, 1830-33. Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter tan calf, raised bands, red morocco spine labels, marbled boards.

First edition of “the most influential text on the subject ever written,” Lyell’s seminal three-volume work featuring three engraved frontispieces (including two hand-colored aquatints), four map plates (two hand-colored) and over 130 woodcut engravings, including numerous in-text maps and diagrams.

Charles Lyell’s “Principles of Geology proved to be the most influential text on the subject ever written” (Simmons, 141). This “classic by the ‘father of modern geology… was important in the development of the Darwinian theory of evolution” (Horblit 70). The Principles newly established “a strict uniformitarian theory of the earth based upon a knowledge of the existing causes and effects of geologic change… Lyell argued that the order of nature in the past was uniform with that in the present, and that therefore geological phenomena—even major changes, such as alteration in global climate—should be attributed to the gradual action, over sufficient time, of modern geological processes” (Norman). His theory “once and for all… dispensed with the notion of supernatural intervention” (PMM 344). This work also describes for the first time Lyell’s division of the Tertiary Strata into Eocene, Miocene and Pliocene periods. While aboard the Beagle, Darwin read Principles and was profoundly influenced by it, later writing: “The science of geology is enormously indebted to Lyell—more… than to any other man who ever lived” (DNB). Darwin acknowledged that “I always feel as if my books came half out of Lyell’s brain” (PMM 344). “The first edition was published in an edition of 1500 copies” (Norman). Bound without half titles (none issued in Volume II). Norman 1398. Horblit 70. Dibner 96. Mount & List, 50.

Light foxing (less than usually seen), light expert restoratiom to contemporary calf bindings. An extremely good and quite desirable set in contemporary calf.

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