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[The Cat Bird] Muscicapa vertice nigro
London: printed for Benjamin White, 1771. Hand-coloured copper engraving, on fine laid paper. Very good condition. A fine image from Catesby's 'The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands', "the most famous colour-plate book of American plant and animal life...a fundamental and original work for the study of American species" (Hunt) Part of the family of mimic thrushes that includes the brown thrasher and mockingbird, the catbird is commonly found in southern Canada as well as the central, eastern and southern regions of the United States. Catesby observes in his accompanying text that "[t]his bird is not seen on lofty trees; but frequents bushes and thickets; and feeds on insects. It has but one note, which resembles the mewing of a cat; and which has given it its name. It lays a blue egg, and retires from Virginia in winter." (Feduccia, Catesby's Birds of Colonial America (1985), p. 103) In this stunning print, the charming catbird is pictured perched on a thin stem of sweet pepperbush, a shrub that thrives in damp areas. Trained as a botanist, Catesby travelled to Virginia in 1712 and remained there for seven years, sending back to England collections of plants and seeds. With the encouragement of Sir Hans Sloane and others, Catesby returned to America in 1722 to seek materials for his 'Natural History'; he travelled extensively in Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and the Bahamas, sending back further specimens. His preface provides a lengthy account of the development of this work, including his decision to study with Joseph Goupy in order to learn to etch his plates himself to ensure accuracy and economy. A lovely and important work, embodying the most impressive record made during the colonial period of the natural history of an American colony. The most significant work of American natural history before Audubon's Birds of America . Cf. Anker 95; cf. Clark I:55; cf. Dunthorne 72; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990), p. 86; cf. Great Flower Books (1990), p.85; cf. Meisel III:340; cf. Nissen BBI 336, IVB 177; cf. Sabin 11509; cf. Stafleu & Cowan TL2 1057; cf. Wood p. 282; cf. Amy Meyers and Margaret Pritchard, Empire's Nature, Mark Catesby's New World Vision , Williamsburg, 1998; cf. Feduccia, Catesby's Birds of Colonial America , pp. 103-4.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2016-01-31           Check availability:      IOBABooks    


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