PRIDEAUX JOHN SELBY (1788-1867)
Illustrations of British Ornithology. (Text) Edinburgh and London, 1833. (Plates) Edinburgh, 1834 [watermarked 1825-1840]. 4 volumes comprising 2 vols. text, 8° (213 x 134mm.) and 2 vols. plates, broadsheet (650 x 516mm). 2 engraved titles with uncoloured vignettes, 223 fine etched plates by Selby and W.H.Lizars, after Selby, Robert Mitford, Edward Lear and William Jardine, comprising 4 uncoloured plates of details and 219 hand-coloured engraved plates (including a duplicate plate XLV* in the Land Birds volume). (Plate vol.I Land Birds: title and two of the final uncoloured plates slightly creased, light spotting or soiling to plates I and XLVII; plate vol.II Water Birds: title and plates XCVI, XCVI*, XCVII slightly creased, plates X, XI*, XLVII*, LVII, LXXVI, XCIX shaved with slight loss to the image or plate number.) Contemporary green half morocco gilt, brown morocco lettering-pieces on spines, g.e. (joints weak, extremities rubbed, one lettering-piece on vol. I of the text defective, free endpapers creased).
THE TALLEST BRITISH BIRD BOOK. FIRST EDITION OF THE PLATE VOLUMES, with the plates in generally fine condition. Second edition of vol.I of the text, first edition of vol.II. The "two volumes of British Ornithology are outstandingly beautiful. In many people's estimation the clarity and crispness of his figures give them an austere beauty that is lacking in the pretty lithographs in... Gould's books about British birds.... Selby's bird figures were the most accurate delineations of British birds to that date, and the livliest.. [The work] was the finest and largest book about British birds and was remarkable in that it demonstrated copperplate work at its very best when this craft was on the decline" (C.Jackson. Bird Etchings, 1985, p.212). BM (NH) pp.1895-6; Fine Bird Books p.107; Nissen IVB 853; Zimmer p.571. (4)