A manuscript field guide based on Wilson's Ornithology
A manuscript field guide based on Wilson's Ornithology

FOR DAVID BAILIE WARDEN (1772-1845)

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A manuscript field guide based on Wilson's Ornithology
For David Bailie Warden (1772-1845)
WARDEN, David Bailie (1772-1845), owner. Manuscript in an unidentified hand, "A list, and short description of the birds of the United States according to Wilson's American Ornithology," n.p., n.d.

Octavo (206 x 150mm) consisting of 356 numbered pages with the occasional additional leaf affixed to the top or bottom margin of page (toned at fore edge). Contemporary plain paper boards (spine cracked). Red half morocco slipcase.

A manuscript digest of Alexander Wilson's magnum opus. A curious manuscript detailing the first seventeen plates of Alexander Wilson's American Ornithology. While the notes copy the scientific ones that begin each of Wilson's entries, nearly verbatim, the scribe has copied only the basic physical attributes, notes on habitat, migration and rarity. This gargantuan effort, covering over 350 pages of manuscript, covers large portion of Wilson's work and while many of the entries are found in the order found in Wilson’s volumes, the sequence becomes somewhat jumbled toward the middle and end of the book. The overall brevity of the entries suggest that the manuscript was an effort to produce a more portable book for identifying birds in the field. On the manuscript title page, a subsequent owner has identified the manuscript as "by D. B. Warden Esq. Late Consul for the United Sates at Paris (not printed). However, the handwriting is not Warden's but most likely by a secretary. The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress holds a letter signed by Warden written to Madison enclosing a copy of a letter from Matilda Tone, and the body of the text of both letters appears to match the handwriting in this manuscript volume (see David Bailie Warden to Paul Hamilton, 18 January 1812: https://www.loc.gov/resource/mjm.13_0835_0837 & a fair copy of Matilda Tone to David Bailie Warden, 8 January 1812: https://www.loc.gov/resource/mjm.13_0830_0834).

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