3 December 2007
WILSON, Alexander (1766-1813). American Ornithology; or, the Natural History of the Birds of the United States. Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808-1814.
9 volumes, 2o (346 x 269mm). Subscriber's list at the end of vol. IX. (Some tears to some pages occasionally affecting the text and repaired.) 76 hand-colored engraved plates after Wilson by Alexander Lawson, G. Murray, Benjamin Tanner and J.G. Warnicke (some offsetting of plates onto text, unevenly browned, some spots and stains, in volume VII plate LVI is nicked in the outer edge, and plate LVII has an early repair along the gutter, neither affecting the image). Early 20th- century quarter red roan, marbled boards, ruled and lettered in gilt on the spines (spines lightly faded, extremities a bit worn, and some inner hinges cracked). Provenance: Francis C. Stanwood (signature in each volume dating the binding to 1907).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, with the preface dated October 1st 1808, of this pioneering work by the "father of American ornithology". Wilson's original drawings and paintings of birds, translated into attractive plates by Lawson, and detailed observations of their habits and habitats combined to produce "the first truly great American ornithology and also the first truly outstanding American colour plate book of any type" (Bennett), predating Audubon. The numerous figures represent 262 species of birds, 39 of which were new to science and 23 re-classified. Volumes I-VII were published during the author's lifetime; Volume VIII was edited by George Ord and Volume IX completed by him from Wilson's notes and his own observations. Bennett 114; Reese 3; Sabin 104597; Zimmer p.679.
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