EDWARDS, George (1694-1773). A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, and of Some Other Rare and Undescribed Animals. London: the author, 1743-1751. 4 volumes. Hand-coloured etched frontispiece, 210 hand-coloured etched plates, some heightened with gum arabic, and one etched plate of the 'Samoyed', by and after Edwards. English and French general titles with engraved vignettes by Johann Sebastian Müller and letterpress part-titles. Text in English and French, translated by David Durand. Woodcut head- and tailpieces and initials.
G. EDWARDS. Gleanings of Natural History, Exhibiting Figures of Quadrupeds, Birds, Insects, Plants, &c. London: the author, 1758-1764. 3 volumes. Etched portrait frontispiece by J.S. Müller after Bartholomew Dandridge and 152 hand-coloured etched plates, some heightened with gum arabic, by and after Edwards et al., most plates in vols. II and III numbered in a contemporary hand. English and French general title with engraved vignette by J.S. Müller and letterpress part-titles. Text in English and French in double columns, translated by J. du Plessis and Edmond Barker. Woodcut head- and tailpieces and engraved tailpiece on final page of vol. I. (Letterpress titles misbound at the beginning of vol. I.)
2 works in 7 volumes, 4° (290 x 226mm). (Some variable spotting and offsetting, occasional marginal tears on text leaves.) Uniformly bound in contemporary English mottled calf gilt, boards with borders of floral rolls, spines gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-pieces in 2, others decorated with floral tools (surface flaking caused by mottling process, some light rubbing and scuffing, some minor splitting on hinges, skilful repairs at corners, skilfully rebacked preserving original spines). Provenance: S. Galton (contemporary booklabels) -- early manuscript pressmarks and labels with manuscript pressmarks.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE SET OF THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH TEXTS OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY NATURAL HISTORY WORKS. 'At its date of issue, the Natural History and Gleanings was one of the most important of all Bird Books, both as a Fine Bird Book and a work of Ornithology. It is still high on each list' (Fine Bird Books). Edwards 'was born at Stratford, Essex, and received his early education at a public school at Leytonstone, later being apprenticed to a tradesman in ... London. Having access to a large library of scientific books Edwards studied these assiduously and ... decided to travel abroad. Between 1716 and 1733 he visited many foreign countries but in December of the latter year settled down in London and, through the influence of Sir Hans Sloane, was chosen Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians ... Almost immediately after he was appointed ... Edwards commenced the preparation of a series of coloured drawings of animals and birds, used later to illustrate [the present work]; for these he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society and subsequently elected a Fellow' (Lisney p.127). In about 1764 he retired to Plaistow, where he died on 23 July 1773, and was buried in West Ham. A Natural History and Gleanings were very successful, and Edwards produced a number of variant issues and editions, including that of a French text (which was issued both with the English text, as here, and separately). In 1769 Edwards sold the remaining copies of the work, the copper plates, and the letterpress to the bookseller James Robson, who continued to issue sets, and a final edition appeared in 1802-1806, published by W. Gardiner and Messrs. Robinson. Anker 124-126; Fine Bird Books p.93; Lisney 188, 192-193, 197-198, 200-201, 203, 205, 208, and 211; Mullens and Swann pp. 195-196; Nissen IVB 286-289; Zimmer pp.192-194 and 196-199. (7)