An Especially Fine Copy of One of the Most Beautiful English Ornithological Books

ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.

(London: Longman & Co, [1837-44]). 372 x 270 mm. (14 5/8 x 10 5/8"). Four volumes. FIRST EDITION, Second Issue (title pages in first state, with diacritical marks over the author's last name and with no period after the publisher's name).

VERY FINE CONTEMPORARY EMERALD GREEN MOROCCO, GILT, covers framed in the Romantic style with multiple plain and decorative gilt rules, and foliate rolls in gilt and in blind, raised bands, spine compartments densely gilt, with fleuron centerpieces surrounded by swirling foliage, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, pale yellow embossed endpapers, leather hinges, all edges gilt. WITH 319 HAND-COLORED PLATES: 313 as called for in the contents lists, plus one additional plate each of the heron and the blackbird, and four plates depicting eggs, all with original tissue guards. Mullens and Swann, pp. 402-03; Wood, p. 462 Spines uniformly sunned to a soft olive green, a couple of boards with small spots of mild chafing, extremities a little rubbed, isolated mild foxing, but A LOVELY COPY, the plates clean, fresh, and bright with vivid coloring, and the handsomely decorated bindings with only trivial wear.

Published in 79 parts under the special patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this is a most desirable issue of "one of our most valuable illustrated works" on British ornithology. Mullens and Swann Wood describes it as "the finest and most complete atlas of portraits of British avifauna (with their eggs) ever published." Mullens and Swann notes that it is "identical in appearance [to the first issue] but is printed on stouter paper, and has a number of plates containing figures of eggs in the lower comers which are not in the first issue." Our copy also has additional plates for eggs of four species, and two additional plates illustrating the heron and the blackbird. All plates are lettered with the common name of the bird, its Latin classification, and a couple of lines about its size, habitat, and diet. The illustrations were drawn after nature by Meÿer and his wife--some from living subjects kept by the artist--and were hand colored by their three daughters. Mrs. Meÿer was an accomplished artist and, in addition to creating many of the original drawings, she also drew many of the plates on the stones for lithographing. Born in Amsterdam, Meÿer (d. 1864) came with his father to England in 1806, after Napoleon made his own brother Louis king of Holland. He married Mary Anne Moor in 1830, and they set up house in Surrey, where Meÿer pursued his twin passions as an artist and a naturalist. The present work has a complex bibliographical history, and appears in the market with anywhere from 313 to 320 plates (the latter copy had one more plate depicting eggs than ours). Mullens and Swann notes that hardly any two copies of the folio edition (there was also an octavo edition) are alike. W. G. Hale did an intensive study of the publication history, and attributes these variations to the extended period and haphazard manner of publication, and to the continual improvements to the illustrations. Our copy seems to have been compiled near the pinnacle of the Meÿers' achievement, as it features numerous illustrations of eggs, superb impressions (a quality that deteriorated with the later second edition/third issue), and outstanding hand coloring. Such sets are rare in the marketplace. In terms of convincing and beautiful illustrations, the book holds its own with other famous ornithological publications, no matter their language; it is not a rare book, but a copy like the present one--very handsomely bound and especially well preserved--is extremely difficult to find.
(ST15464)

Add to Cart Price: $19,500.00

PJP Catalog: 75.246

ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS. ORNITHOLOGY, HENRY LEONARD MEŸER, COLOR PLATE BOOKS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BRITISH BIRDS.