Leipzig: Von Veit. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION OF DE VRIES TWO VOLUME CLASSIC WORK ON GENETICS INCLUDING HIS REDISCOVERY OF MENDEL’S LAWS AS WELL AS HIS DISCOVERY OF THE PHENOMENON OF MUTATION. This work is de Vries’s most complete exposition on these subjects and it “made him famous and he was recognized as one of the foremost botanists of his time” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). Further: Norman, 2169; Heirs of Hippocrates 1094; Garrison-Morton, 240; Grolier/Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 73b; Dibner. Heralds of Science, 36.
Hugo Marie de Vries was a Dutch botanist and one of the world’s first genetists. Wholly unaware of Gregor Mendel’s earlier work, in these volumes de Vries writes of rediscovering the laws of heredity — de Vries “[re]discovered, revealed, and proved the importance of Mendel's work” (Grolier/ Horblit). He also advanced Mendel’s work, introducing the idea of and the word ‘mutation’ and developing his own mutation theory of evolution, or “discontinuous change in the character of species" (Grolier/ Horblit). (Late in the 1890s, de Vries “became aware of Mendel's obscure paper of thirty years earlier and he altered some of his terminology to match)” (Wikipedia).
In 1886, de Vries began an intensive study of a species of evening primrose, Oenothera lamarckiana after noticing a number of variants of the species. As he pursued his research, new forms appeared, making possible the formulation of de Vries’s Laws of Mutation. His research suggested that new species develop through a series of small, random, and not necessarily useful changes ("mutations" or “saltations") — a theory that buttressed Darwin's evolutionism and explained the progress of changing characteristics within species. Curiously, de Vries’ Oe. Lamarckiana “mutants were later discredited (the plant was shown to be a permanent hybrid), the principle of mutation, or sudden change in species, remains a cornerstone of evolution theory.
"The results of [de Vries] more than ten years of experimentation and study were laid down in Die Mutationstheorie [this work]. . . [Here] he described in detail his work on the segregation laws, on phenomena of variation, and on plant mutations [as the basis of evolution]” (Norman). Further, he “postulated that evolution, especially the origin of species, might occur more frequently with such large-scale changes than via Darwinian gradualism, basically suggesting a form of saltationism. de Vries’s theory was one of the chief contenders for the explanation of how evolution worked, leading, for example, Thomas Hunt Morgan to study mutations in the fruit fly, until the modern evolutionary synthesis became the dominant model in the 1930s” (Wikipedia). Item #966
CONDITION & DETAILS: Two volumes. Leipzig: Von Veit. 8vo. (9.25 x 6.5 inches; 235 x 165mm). xii, 648; adverts.; xiv, 752pp. Each volume with pictorial bookplate of “Dr. P. Vermeulen”. 12 chromolithographed plates and numerous in-text illustrations. Tightly and solidly bound in contemporary half-calf over marbled boards; 5 gilt-ruled raised bands at the spine; gilt-lettered. Very slight rubbing at the edges. Bright and clean throughout with a very occasional spot of toning. Very good to near fine condition.