30 April 2008
WOLF, Johann (1765-1824) and Bernhard MEYER (1767-836). Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands in getreuen Abbildungen und Beschreibungen. Nuremberg: J. F. Frauenholz, 1805 [-1821].
2 volumes, large broadsheets (598 x 405mm). German title to vol. I, French title to vol. II, text in French and German. 176 hand-coloured engraved plates (of 180). (Lacking 4 supplementary plates as usual, a few plates lightly and evenly browned.) Contemporary dark-blue half morocco, gilt spines with a repeat pattern of foliate tools and volutes, marbled endpapers and edges (slightly scuffed).
FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF A RARE WORK: there are reputed to be only about 16 copies in existence. Few copies have appeared at auction; apart from the Bradley Martin copy (Sotheby's New York, 7 June 1989, lot 239), four copies appeared in Britain in the 20th century and two in Germany since 1960 (with only 85 and 18 plates). None of these copies has had the full complement of 180 plates, cited by Nissen and Fine Bird Books: the British Library and Bradley Martin copies, like the present one, have only 176 plates, lacking the four supplementary plates issued in 1821. The plates, by J. C. Bock and A. Gabler after the latter's work and that of J.M. Hergenröder, are described by Ripley and Scribner as 'bridging ... two eras in ornithology, the eighteenth century era of high stylization and the nineteenth century period of realistic portrayal'. The text of this copy has very wide margins to enable the leaves to be bound next to the plates to which they refer: other copies are often bound as two quarto volumes of text and an atlas volume of plates. Nissen IVB 1007; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.121; Wood 633; Ripley and Scribner 314. (2)
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