London: printed by A[ndrew]. C[larke]. for John Martyn, printer to the Royal Society, at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-Yard, MDCLXXVIII . First Edition thus. Paneled Calf. First Edition in English of "one of the most important treatises on ornithology of all time, being the first systematic classification of the birds of the world." (Wood). Translated, edited and slightly expanded by Ray from Willughby's Latin original. Crown folio (364 x 231mm): ,53,,55-271,,273-441,pp, with two full-page letterpress tables and 80 leaves of plates, most unsigned but some credited to Thomas Browne and three by F. H. van Hove, two by W. Faithorne, and one by W. Sherwin. The two engraved plates showing techniques and equipment for snaring birds, often absent, are bound in at p. 28 (as prescribed); the remaining 78 numbered plates (depicting more than 200 species) appear at the end. An excellent example, beautifully bound to style in recent quarter calf over marbled paper-covered boards, spine in seven compartments divided by gilt-ruled raised bands, end papers renewed, title page in red and black. Binding pristine, title page lightly soiled, text block generally clean throughout and virtually free of foxing, two plates with short marginal tears far from images, old repair to one plate corner. Wing W2880. Nissen IVB 991. BM(NH) V, p.2331. Wood (McGill), p.629. Zimmer (Ayer Ornithological Library), pp. 676-78. Anker 532 ("marks an epoch in the history of ornithology"). Lowndes 2939. Bibliotheca Bibliographici 39. Near Fine+. Item #BB2222
In the 1660's, John Ray and his pupil (and, later, patron) Francis Willughby toured the Continent, gathering material for their planned complete classification of the vegetable and animal kingdoms. After Willughby's early death in 1672, which deprived Ray of both a collaborator and a friend, Ray took over his notes, and, having edited the incomplete manuscript and added his own observations, published Francisci Willughbeii ornithologiae libri tres; totum opus recognovit, digressit, supplevit Joannes Raius, in 1676. The present work, a translation by Ray, was published two years later and includes three more plates than the Latin edition as well as an expanded text, including three additional sections by Ray on fowling, falconry, and songbirds. In all, Ray and Willughby described more than 230 species, which they had observed. Ray's systemization was revolutionary (Zimmer calls it the "cornerstone of modern systematic ornithology"), preserving the broad division of land and water birds, but rather than subdividing functionally, on grounds of diet, singing ability, and other behavioral traits, he introduced a classification based on anatomy, using for criteria foot structure, beak form, and body size. In the preface, Ray writes that the plates, despite some difficulties in communication between himself and the engravers, "are the best and truest, that is, most like the live Birds, of any hitherto engraven in Brass." Isaac Newton called this work the "foundation of scientific ornithology." N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).