A History of British Birds. The figures engraved on wood by Thomas Bewick
Newcastle (Printed by Sol. Hodgson, for Beilby & Bewick: Sold by Them, and C.G. & J. Robinson, London/ Printed by Edward Walker, for T. Bewick: Sold by Him, and Longman and Rees, London), 1797-1804.. 2 vols. Vol. I: Containing the History and Description of Land Birds. xxx, (2), 335, (1)pp. 208 wood-engraved vignettes of birds, tailpieces, etc. Vol. II: Containing the History and Description of Water Birds. xx, 400pp. 237 wood-engraved vignettes of birds, tailpieces, etc. Sm. 4to. Contemporary polished calf gilt, finely rebacked by Rivière & Son, the spine gilt in compartments; inner dentelles; a.e.g. First editions, and earliest issues, of the two volumes, the first volume with the cuts of the Sea Eagle and the Magpie, and of the vignette at p. 285, all in first state, and with the advertisement for the third edition of the Quadrupeds at the end. The stated price of 13s. at the foot of the title-page of the Land Birds indicates that volume to be in the Old Royal issue (of which only 134 copies were printed); the price of 15s. on the title-page of the Water Birds indicates it to be in the Royal (thin paper) issue (900 copies printed). As he continued his effort to render a delightful portion of Natural History more interesting and generally known, Bewick put to good use the lessons he had learned from the Quadrupeds. He limited himself to British birds, which he could observe at first hand, and the scenes of English life, previously confined to tailpieces, became more numerous and elaborate, more varied and poetic. The History of British Birds is consequently his masterpiece with respect both to craftsmanship and creative imagination (Ray). A few slight chips to surfaces of covers; occasional signatures slightly browned; a very fine copy, crisp and fresh. Ex-librises of W. van R. Whitall, Henry Andrews Ingraham.
[Bookseller: Ars Libri Ltd]