Folio [570 x 435 mm], (vi) pp., 17 pp., (6) pp., with chromolithographed title, vignette view of Corncockle Muir Quarry, vignette ‘Rain Drops’ (in sandstone), geological section, and 13 chromolithographed plates, of which 11 are double-page. Bound in original blue cloth. Rebacked with black cloth, new black cloth corners, endpapers renewed. Presentation inscription, stamp and release stamp of the Edinburgh Nature Conservancy on front flyleaf, occasional minor spotting, otherwise a nice copy.
Rare first edition presentation copy of a work on fossilized reptile footprints found in the New Red Sandstone formations of Corncockle Muir, located near Templand in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The naturalist William Jardine (1800-74) here records many specimens he found on the family estate, as well as items collected from other nearby quarries. This lavishly printed work – its illustrations of specimens reproduced at life size – is said to have been published in fewer than 140 copies (Jackson, p. 112).
The fine, hard sandstone of Corncockle Muir was much quarried in the nineteenth century as an excellent building material, and during this work numerous fossilized footprints were found beginning in 1837. Jardine focused on the fossils excavated from the Permian formation at Corncockle Muir, reopening in 1847 a quarry that had worked to a depth of over 200 feet. Jardine collected specimens from Corncockle and other sites, making intricate descriptions and drawings. In the present work he presents his discoveries of three new genera and five new species. After his death, the fossil collection was sold by his son for £150 to the Edinburgh Museum, where it is still housed.
The Corncockle Quarry sandstone provided building material for Victorian row houses in Glasgow and Edinburgh and was shipped across the Atlantic as a favored material in constructing the brownstones of New York City. The quarry at Corncockle is still active today. The present volume is a presentation copy, carrying the inscription ‘Presented by Sir William Jardine to Charles Ratcliff’; Colonel Ratliff (d. 1885) was an assistant to Jardine who married his youngest daughter shortly after the naturalist’s death.
* Christine Jackson, William Jardine, a Life in Natural History, pp 107-113.