Orang-Outang: or the Anatomy of a Pygmie

Edward TYSON

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Item#: 109690 price:$18,500.00

"A POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON ALL SUBSEQUENT THOUGHT ON MAN'S PLACE IN NATURE": FIRST EDITION OF TYSON'S LANDMARK WORK ON THE ANATOMY OF THE ORANG-OUTANG, 1699, EARLY VIEWED AS THE EVIDENCE OF THE "MISSING LINK," WITH EIGHT ENGRAVED FOLDING ANATOMICAL PLATES, RARE IN CONTEMPORARY CALF BOARDS

TYSON, Edward M.D. Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris: Or, The Anatomy of a Pygmie Compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape, and a Man. London: Printed for Thomas Bennet… and Daniel Brown, 1699. Tall quarto, contemporary full paneled brown calf rebacked with remnants of original elaborately gilt-decorated spine and red morocco spine label laid down. $18,500.

First edition of Tyson's "epoch-making" anatomical study that laid a foundation for the theory of evolution, "the first work to demonstrate scientifically the structural relationships between man and anthropoid ape" (Norman), heralded as a "forerunner of Blumenbach, Buffon, Huxley and Darwin" (PMM), with eight striking copper-engraved folding plates. A handsome wide-margined volume in contemporary paneled calf boards.

Orang-Outang is "the earliest important study in comparative morphology… Tyson compared the anatomy of men and monkeys, and he placed between them what he thought was a typical pygmy—it was, in fact, an African chimpanzee, the skeleton of which survives to this day in the Natural History Museum in London… Tyson established a new family of anthropoid apes standing between monkey and man, and recognized that man was probably a close relative of certain lower animals. Popularized as the 'missing link,' the theory that man shares some remote common ancestry with the apes was not clearly expounded until the publication of Huxley's Man's Place in Nature in 1863 and Darwin's Descent of Man in 1871. Tyson did not foresee the theory of evolution; but his work contributed substantially to its formulation and in that sense he was a forerunner of Blumenbach, Buffon, Huxley and Darwin" (PMM 169).

Featuring eight splendid engraved folding plates "drawn by William Cowper in the style of the Vesalian musclemen…Tyson's anatomy of the Orang-Outang… was the first work to demonstrate scientifically the structural relationships between man and anthropoid ape. A believer in the 'Great Chain of Being,' he identified the chimpanzee as the link directly below mankind, stating in his 'Epistle dedicatory' that it 'seems the Nexus of the Animal and Rational. Tyson's anatomical study—the first conducted of a great ape—had a powerful influence on all subsequent thought on man's place in nature" (Norman 2120). It is widely seen as "'an epoch making event' that had a profound impact on the methodology and practice of comparative anatomy and on the study of physiology as well as on the development of systems of thought that led to the rise of the theory of evolution" (Brown, Homeless Men & Melancholy Apes,42).

Orang-Outang also stands as "the direct source of Buffon's examination of apes in his Histoire Naturell (1749-88)… In his volume on the nomenclature of monkeys [1766] Buffon meticulously translated Tyson's list of the differences/similitudes between men, orang-outangs and monkeys… Tyson's analysis was also central to the definition of the 'Homo Nocturnus' by Linnaeus" (Hund et al, Simianization, 111- 12). "In literature Sir Oran Haut-ton in Peacock's novel Melincourt, 1817, and the orang-outang in Shelly's Queen Mab, derive from Tyson," and scholars also trace Swift's depiction of Yahoos in Gulliver's Travels to Tyson (PMM 169). "The last section of Orang-Outang is devoted to 'A Philological Essay Concerning the Pygmies of the Ancients,' an early and major contribution to the study of primate-oriented folklore" (Norman 2120). Imprint opposite main title page. Containing separate title pages for Orang-Outang and separately paginated Philological Essay. Eight folding plates engraved by M. van der Gucht from drawings by William Cowper, bound between Orang-Outang and Philological Essay. With rear advertisement leaf. Krivatsy 12028. Wing T3598 (Wing T3596A is a ghost). ESTC R23265. Russell 825.

Interior generally fresh with light scattered foxing, plates with minimal paper repairs, early archival tape reinforcement to versos with lightest dampstaining to one plate, mild rubbing to boards. A highly desirable copy of this seminal work in the history of science.

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