30 April 2008
WILLUGHBY, Francis (1635-1672) and John RAY (1627-1705). The Ornithology. London: A.C. [?Andrew Clarke] for John Martyn, 1678.
2° (355 x 228mm). Two engraved plates illustrating methods of snaring birds, 78 plates of birds, text diagrams, 2 letterpress tables. Title printed in red and black. (Title discreetly guarded to A2 and with light fraying at fore-edge, neat repairs in a few text leaves and about 6 plates, last plate also creased, occasionally dust-soiling at upper margin.) 19th-century English calf, spine with red leather label and FFF stamp at foot (slight wear at extremities). Provenance: Francis Ferrand Foljambe (binding).
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH of 'one of the most important treatises on ornithology of all time' (Wood). It contains the first systematic classification of birds of the world. For the English edition Ray corrected the text and augmented it with three new treatises on falconry, songbirds, and the art of fowling. It also contains an additional engraved plate. The combination of scientific importance and sumptuous production makes it, as the 1676 Latin first edition, 'one of the fairest monuments that mark the progress of scientific natural history' (Keynes p.54). Keynes, Ray 39; Nissen IVB 991; Norman 1792; Wood p.629.
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