Jakob Christian Schaeffer (1718-1790)
Elementa Ornithologica iconibus vivis coloribus expressis illustrata. Regensburg: typis Weissianis, 1774. 4 (277 x 217mm). Title with engraved vignette by J.G. Fridrich, 70 hand-coloured engraved plates after J.J. Rotermundt by J.G. Fridrich, J.A. Eisenmann, J.S. Leitner and A. Hoffer. Contemporary French red morocco gilt, covers with triple fillet border, decorative cornerpieces, spine in six compartments with raised bands, olive morocco lettering-piece in the second, the others with decoration composed from various small tools, gilt turn-ins, comb-marbled endpapers, g.e. Provenance: Griffe de Huzard (bibliographical note, ownership stamp); H. Gallice (bookplate); Marcel Jeanson (bookplate, sale Sothebys', Monaco, 16 June 1988 lot 69).
FIRST EDITION, AND A FINE COPY OF THIS RARE WORK WITH A DISTINGUISHED PROVENANCE. Schaeffer was a Prussian-born naturalist who spent most of his working life in Ratisborn (Regensburg). He wrote a number of works on insects and fungi, and was elected to the academies at Uppsala and Berlin and made a Fellow of the Royal Society. The text deals with 229 forms of birds distributed over 59 genera; the text and plates are divided into four sections: a discussion of the external structure of birds (plates 1-4), an overview of the ornithological orders (plate 5), a table of generic characteristics (plates 6-16) and a description of Bavarian birds (plates 17-70). 'Each species is cited under its binomial name, with the addition of the common name in French and German, and a brief diagnosis or a description with references to the literature on the subject': Anker 439 (citing the second edition); Fine Bird Books (1990), p.138; Nissen IVB 822.