BROWN, Captain Thomas (1785-1862) Illustrations of the American Ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucian Bonaparte, Prince of Musignano. With the Addition of Numerous Recently Discovered Species and Representations of the Whole Sylva of North America. Edinburgh: Frazer & Co.; Dublin: William Curry Jnr. & Co.; London: Smith, Elder & Co., -1835.
Royal 2° (535 x 407mm). 3pp. letterpress index. Engraved title by James Turvey, engraved dedication to David, Earl of Airlie, 124 finely hand-coloured engraved plates of birds after Thomas Brown, A. Rider, J.B. Kidd and others, engraved by Samuel Milne, James Mayson, Wm.Davie, R. Scott, W.H. Lizars, and others, 69 of the plates with slips correcting the numbering pasted onto the upper right corner of the plate area. (Title with expertly repaired vertical crease, small tears, not affecting images, to lower blank margins of plates numbered V, XXVIII, XXIX, XXXII and LXXXIX, occasional light spotting or browning to plates I, LVIII, LXIX, LXII and LXXXIV.) 20th-century red morocco, spine lettered and dated in gilt (upper cover sunned).
ONE OF THE SCARCEST COLOUR-PLATE WORKS ON AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY. A LARGE COPY WITH THE PLATES IN VERY FINE CONDITION. This copy includes early issues of plates 44 (before the addition of the Hudsonian Titmouse) and 61 (before the addition of two figures of the Mangrove Humming-bird). "Among the rarest [works] in ornithological literature" (Faxon 1919), Brown's Illustrations was intended to accompany the first European edition of Wilson's American Ornithology published in 1831 at Edinburgh. A complete copy contains 161 birds not depicted by Wilson and Bonaparte and a further 87 "considerably enlarged" (Ellis); in addition 167 trees and shrubs are included (all of which are identified in the index). The plates are the work of the leading engravers of Edinburgh, including W.H. Lizars, who also engraved some of the earliest Audubon plates. The original sequential numbering of the plates was abandoned quite early on during the work's publication and the confusion was further added to by the deliberate decision not to number sixteen of the plates. In later issues (such as the present copy) this problem was alleviated by the pasted-on slips. Brown published the selection of 16 unnumbered plates separately in 1834 as Illustrations of the Game Birds of North America (see lot 529). Ellis 389; W. Faxon The Auk 20, 1903, pp.236-41 and 36, 1919, p.626; Nissen IVB, 152; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.82 ("very rare"); Lysaght The Book of Birds 88.