A wonderful copy of the first edition of Spallanzani’s outstanding publication consisting of “five reports that displayed unexcelled experimental skill, remarkable powers of observation and lucid literary talent” (DSB). Spallanzani is one of the greatest of all experimental biologists. “A long controversy with John Tuberville Needham and Comte de Buffon resulted in a series of essays, published in this two-volume work, in which Spallanzani rejected the then-popular theory of spontaneous generation . . . Most of the experiments described in the Opuscoli consist of observations Spallanzani made on infusions of vegetable matter heated in closed vessels for various periods of time and set aside to await developments that would later be viewed with the eye or under the microscope ... it clearly foreshadowed subsequent experiments by other investigators which culminated nearly a century later in Pasteur’s epic work” (Heirs of Hippocrates). “The beautiful experimental work of Spallanzani ... might have ended the discussions of spontaneous generation had the precautions which he observed been followed exactly by others ... much of the experimental work carried out more than a century after Spallanzani’s time was primitive compared with that elaborated with so much care and prescience by the great Italian master of experiment” (Bulloch). The main treatise in the second volume confirmed and extended Leeuwenhoek’s observations on spermatozoa and refuted Buffon’s concepts of their nature and origin. The fine plates depict over forty of Spallanzani’s microscopic observations. Collation: Pp xvi, 304 + two leaves with errata and instructions for the bookbinder; pp (4), 277, (1) errata, one blank leaf. With 6 throwout engraved plates. Binding: Two volumes, sewn as issued in the original limp natural-coloured bindings, with two cords exposed next to the spine, blank endpapers. Entirely untrimmed and unopened with ample margins. References: Garrison-Morton 102; Prandi, Bibliografia di L. Spallanzani, 36-37; Needham, History of Embryology, 211-12; Bulloch, History of Bacteriology, 77-79; DSB, XII, 553-567; Heirs of Hippocrates 984; Norman Library 1981; Cole, Early Theories of Sexual generation, 112-15; Tortoneze ‘Lazzaro Spallanzani, Founder of Experimental Physiology’ in Endeavour, 7 (1948), pp 92-96. Waller 11007 (French edition of 1777 only).