Skip to main content

Fine Editions Ltd

Fine Editions Ltd
[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States. Alexander WILSON, Prince Charles Lucian Bonaparte.
[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States
[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States
[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States
[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States

[Hand-Colored] American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States

London: Cassell Peter & Galpin [from 1808], n.d. [1876]. Half-Morocco. A superb 3-volume set of the “first major scientific work published in the United States,” (Burtt and Davis) in its final state of Wilson's American Ornithology, with the largest number of plates (OCLC: 932591006). This is also the first edition with hand-colored chromolithographed plates; the original publisher's binding is noted for its handsome spines. 4to: cv,[1],408,[8,Cassell catalogue]; vii,[1],495,[1]; vii,[1],540pp, with tissue-guarded engraved portrait frontispiece of Wilson and 103 chromolithograph plates (drawn chiefly by Wilson, with the assistance of Peale, Audubon, and Rider). The illustrative notes and Life of Wilson are by Sir William Jardine. Publisher's dark green morocco-backed red cloth, spine richly gilt with hawk vignette, top edge gilt, black coated end papers. Pages and plates virtually pristine, aside from light foxing to opening leaves of each volume and label blacked out on fly leaves. Not in Ayer/Zimmer, Nissen, Anker or Sitwell, but matching entirely, in format, binding, pages, and plates, the Chatto & Windus edition of the same year. Indeed sets have appeared in commerce with the Chatto & Windus imprint to Volume I and that of Cassell Peter & Galpin to Volumes II and III. "Up to p. 400 of Vol. III, the present edition [Chatto & Windus] is a copy of the text of the 1832 Jardine edition of Wilson and Bonaparte; the remainder of the work is a copy of the fourth volume of Bonaparte's "American Ornithology," 1825-1832 (without the editorial annotations) . . . The plates are from the same engravings by Lizars as in the 1832 edition, except for plates 22-27 (belonging to Vol. IV of Bonaparte's) (Ayer/Zimmer) For the identical Chatto & Windus (save for the imprint and the Cassell catalog), see: Ayer/Zimmer, p. 685. Nissen 996. Anker 533. Sitwell, p. 157. Fine. Item #BB1704

Originally printed (1808-1814) in a subscribed edition of 400, with nine or ten hand-colored plates in each volume, then updated and expanded after Wilson's death by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte, 2nd Prince of Canino and Musignano. Since then, the book has appeared in innumerable editions with and without plates. Wilson was almost entirely eclipsed in popular awareness by John James Audubon and his Birds of America (1827–1838). But Wilson, not Audubon, is the Father of American Ornithology. This work is the foundational account of North American birds. According to Wilson's biographers (Edward H. Burtt Jr. and William E. Davis Jr.), he “introduced a truly scientific approach to ornithology—dissection to explore dietary and morphological detail—and used behavioral, ecological, and quantitative observations,” in addition to his early adoption of the Linnaean system of taxonomy. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Price: $2,265.00

See all items in XIX CENTURY