(London: Longman & Co, [1837-44]). 372 x 270 mm. (14 5/8 x 10 5/8"). Four volumes. FIRST EDITION.
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 (of five) 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 78 parts under the special patronage of King William, Queen Adelaide, and the Duchess of Kent, this is a most desirable issue of one of the most valuable illustrated works on British ornithology. Wood describes it as "the finest and most complete atlas of portraits of British avifauna (with their eggs) ever published." It is is also a work with an extremely complicated bibliographical history. Ours is the standard first edition, which was planned to have 313 plates of birds and five separate egg plates; the latter were discontinued after only five were published. As a result, a few early copies contain 318 plates, while others have only the 313 bird plates. The present copy has four of the five plates of eggs called for (lacking the Woodcock and Guillemot egg plate), and has two additional plates illustrating the heron and the blackbird, included from the third edition, which was being prepared for publication at the same time the issues of the first edition were being released. Many first editions received these bonus plates by mistake. All plates are lettered with both the common and the contemporary scientific name of the bird, along with a couple of lines about its size, habitat, and diet. The illustrations were drawn from nature by Meÿer and his wife--some from living subjects kept by the artist--and were professionally hand colored. Mary Anne Meÿer was an accomplished artist who created many of the original drawings, whilst her husband, a professional lithographer, drew the plates on the stones; this accounts for only his signature appearing on the completed plates. Born in Amsterdam, Meÿer (d. 1864) came 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. This copy has superb impressions of all the plates (the quality of some deteriorated in the later issues), and outstanding hand coloring. 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--especially well-preserved, with bright, beautiful plates and a handsome binding--is quite difficult to find. We are very grateful to Professor W. G. Hale for his assistance with this description and with the complex bibliographical history. (ST15464)
Add to Cart Price: $19,500.00
PJP Catalog: NY20BF.083