WOOD’S NATURAL HISTORY OF MAN, WITH HUNDREDS OF WOOD-ENGRAVINGS OF ABORIGINAL LIFE BY THE DALZIEL BROTHERS
WOOD, J.G. The Natural History of Man; Being an Account of the Manners and Customs of the Uncivilized Races of Men. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1868-70. Two volumes. Tall, thick octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled boards, endpapers and all edges. $1250.
First edition of Wood’s popular anthropological study designed for “non-scientific minds,” with hundreds of magnificent full-page and in-text wood-engravings by the Dalziel Brothers.
John Wood’s sole purpose for producing his Natural History series was “to popularise the study of natural history by rendering it interesting and intelligible to non-scientific minds… To the theory of evolution he was at first decidedly opposed, but later in life he modified his opinions” (DNB). “Wood merely passed over such subjects as Darwinism and natural theology in silence and concentrated on persuading his readers that observing natural history ‘is far better than a play, and one gets fresh air besides” (Samuel Weston-Smith). After 1876 Wood devoted himself to lecturing on zoology and anthropology, illustrating his talks by drawing on a blackboard or on large sheets of paper. These “sketch lectures,” as he called them, were very popular, and made his reputation both in England and America. His Natural History of Man is divided into two volumes: “Africa”; and “Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, America, Asia, and Ancient Europe.” They contain hundreds of in-text wood-engravings after Angas, Zwecker, Danby, Wolf, and Handley, engraved by the famous Dalziel brothers. “Until photo process put an end to reproductive wood-engraving, the most familiar name in Victorian book illustration was Dalziel” (Hodnett, 148). “The Dalziels’ scale and the comprehensive nature of their activities make them the exemplars of the movement. They were artists, engravers, printers and publishers” (Muir, 132). Their work for Wood’s Natural History series established for them “a prominent place in presenting the wonderful efflorescence of books illustrated with wood-engravings” (Ray, 90).
Fine condition, handsomely bound and beautifully illustrated.