HEILPRIN, Angelo. The Tower of Pelée: New Studies of the Great Volcano of Martinique. Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1904.
Folio (306 x 225mm). Original red half buckram over plain boards, title-label printed in red and black on upper board, printed title-label on spine; pp. 62, [2 (blank l.)]; title printed in red and black and with publisher's device, half-tone photographic frontispiece and 23 photographic plates after Heilprin, Murray Jordan, and Singley, Keystone View Co., all with printed tissue guards bearing captions; boards slightly marked and darkened, extremities a little rubbed, some minor dustmarking, frontispiece guard slightly creased, nonetheless a very good copy; provenance: The Royal Institution (discreet blindstamp on title, inscription 'ExRS 14/2/05').
First edition. The geologist and zoologist Heilprin (1853-1907) emigrated to the United States with his family as a child, before returning to Europe to pursue his education, studying Natural Sciences at the Royal School of Mines in London, where his tutors included T.H. Huxley for biology, and then continuing his studies in Paris, Geneva, Florence, and Vienna. He then returned to the United States, where he was appointed Professor of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and subsequently he held a series of academic positions at this and other institutions. However, 'it was as a traveler and explorer [...] that he was best known' (DAB VIII, p. 501): his expeditions took him to Florida, Mexico, Bermuda, and he was the chief scientist with Robert Peary's Arctic expedition of 1891 and a member of the Peary Relief Expedition of 1892. 'On May 8, 1902, Mont Pelée, which had shown signs of activity for three days, suddenly burst forth "with a violence that surpasses description", and overwhelmed 40,000 persons in the city of St. Pierre. A few days later Heilprin started on a steamer for Martinique. The eruption had not ceased when he arrived, and on May 20 the mountain was in violent convulsion again; but the Philadelphia scientist braved the danger and ascended its slopes. He made numerous photographs at ranges so close to the fiery crater as to place his life in constant jeopardy, but he continued his observations as coolly and calmly as if he had been examining a fossil in a museum. He remained in Martinique for several months, and made subsequent visits to the island. On his return from his first visit he made a report which added materially to the knowledge of vulcanology' (op. cit.). This report, Mont Pelée and the Tragedy of Martinique: a Study of the Great Catastrophes of 1902, with Observations and Experiences in the Field (Philadelphia and London: 1903), was followed by the present volume, and the two works were revised and republished under the title The Eruption of Pelée: a Summary and Discussion of the Phenomena and their Sequels (Philadelphia: 1908).