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134. GOLDING, Harry (ed.) The Wonder Book of nature. Ward, Lock & Co., Ltd. [n.d., c. 1940].


£48


4to. original cloth and wrapper, decorative endpapers; pp. 256, 8 colour plates including one folding, numerous text illustrations; wrapper a little sunned to spine, internally near fine.


Eighth edition. A lovely copy of this classic guide to nature for children.


135. GOODEN, Stephen. The British council Royal crest Proof Engraving. 1941.


£498


mounted proof engraving of Stephen Gooden’s British council design. A fine example.


Signed and dated by Gooden. Founded in 1934, the British council was granted a royal charter by King George vi in 1940 with Gooden receiving the commission to design an armorial crest to mark this elevation.


ThE RARE FiRST iSSUE oF GoSSE’S AccoUnT oF cREATion


136. GOSSE, Philip Henry. omphalos. An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. London: R. Clay for John Van Voorst, 1857. £900


8vo in 12s. original gilt cloth; pp. xiv +, 376, [vi (advertisements)], numerous text illustrations; previous owner’s inscription to ffep, spine repaired to top, title page a little browned, very good.


First edition, first issue (before the title page had been amended to Creation (Omphalos) to improve clarity for the general reader). in this book Gosse attempted his own pre-Darwin and resolutely anti-evolutionary account of creation, based around the question of whether Adam, having not been born of a woman, would have had a navel (the omphalos in question). Gosse argues that Adam would, according to his theory of prochronism. This theory attempts to combine the chronology of Biblical creation with geological evidence suggesting that the Earth was far more than 6,000 years old. it states that the Earth had been created by God with fossils


in its rocks and that Adam had been created with a


navel because those forms are characteristics of those objects — “The man would not have been a man without a navel” (p. 349). hence, an impression of great antiquity was presented to those who did not see that “the creator had before his mind a projection of the whole life-history of the globe […] he determines to call this idea into actual existence, not at the supposed commencing point, but at some stage or other of its course. it is clear, then, that at the selected stage it appears, exactly as it would have appeared at that moment of its history, if all the preceding eras of its history had been real” (p. 351).


The church was outraged because Gosse seemed to be suggesting that God had set out deliberately to deceive mankind about the age of his


135


creation; evolutionists derided the obvious non sequiturs presented by his theories. Omphalos, which Gosse considered his great work, grievously damaged his reputation and overshadowed his important and skilled work as a naturalist. it also financially ruined him. Darwin “was aware of Philip henry Gosse’s Omphalos [...] in which Gosse declared that god created fossils inside the rocks, and Adam and Eve with belly buttons, expressly to give the appearance of a history that had existed long before the first day of creation — the same ardent desire to reconcile faith and science that Gosse’s son Edmund would pity in Father and Son decades later, and that goaded Kingsley into announcing that God would scarcely have written on the rocks `one enormous and superfluous lie’” (Browne ii, p. 22). its value today, apart from its interest as a vigorously argued and entertaining work, is as a document of the strain under which the geological discoveries of the nineteenth century were placing the intellectual status quo. Gosse, in his sincere but woefully misguided attempt to fit new facts into old dogmas, embodies the cultural crisis that Darwin and Wallace would bring to a head the following year. of the 4,000 copies printed, only 600 had sold by 1869 when the title-page was changed, indicating that the first issue was some 600 copies, and “the book is today far scarcer than some of his others which we know to have been printed in much smaller numbers” (Freeman and Wertheimer, pp. 60-61). it is especially rare in its original binding.


BM(nH) ii, p. 697; Freeman and Wertheimer 81a; Stageman 30.


137.GOSSE, Philip Henry. Actinologia Britannica. A history of the British Sea-Anemones and corals. John Van noorst. 1860.


£450


8vo. original green gilt cloth, binding variant c; pp. xl + 362, 12 plates, 11 printed in colour by William Dickes, other text illustrations, erratum slip at p. 1; previous owner’s inscription to ffep; bumped at corners, otherwise near fine, especially internally.


First edition, rare in such good condition. Published three years after the disastrous Omphalos, this scarce book, the standard authority on its subject, shows Gosse at his best. it is widely regarded as his most important work and rightly so, as it displays his talents for observation, description and analysis without any hint of the religious dogma that crippled his attempts to engage in the evolutionary debate. it also shows him at the height of his powers as an illustrator; the plates are simultaneously meticulous, accurate and, partly due to the work of the printer Dickes, eerily beautiful.


Freeman and Wertheimer 108. Freeman 1390.


138. GOULD, John. monograph of the Pittidae. Armadale: Hill House Publishers. 1989.


£400


Folio. Publisher’s blue cloth with crest of British museum natural history in gilt to front; 10 plates; fine.


no. 296 of limited edition of 300. Facsimile of the natural history museum’s copy of the last of Gould’s works to be published during his lifetime. it was finished by Richard Bowdler Sharpe. The birds featured are the pittas, plump, small but very colourful birds that are mainly from south-east Asia.


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