first edition Hardcover
1808-1814 · Philadelphia
by WILSON, Alexander [HAND-COLORED PLATES]
Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808-1814. First Edition. Hardcover. Some offsetting of plates onto text, unevenly browned, some spots and stains. One plate is nicked in the outer edge, another with an early repair along the gutter, neither affecting the image. Spines lightly faded, extremities a bit worn, some inner hinges cracked. Very Good set of this attractive and historic work. Alexander Wilson. Nine folio (10-1/2" x 14") volumes in early 20th-century quarter red roan leather, marbled boards, ruled and lettered in gilt on the spines. Illustrated with 76 hand-colored engraved plates after Wilson by Alexander Lawson, Benjamin Tanner, G. Murray, and J. G. Warnicke. FIRST ISSUE (preface dated 1 October 1808) of this pioneering work by the "father of American ornithology." Wilson's original drawings and paintings of birds and detailed observations of their habits and habitats combined to produce "the first truly great American ornithology and also the first truly outstanding American colour plate book of any type" (Bennett 114), predating Audubon. The numerous figures represent 262 species of birds, 39 of which were new to science and 23 re-classified. Volumes I-VII were published during the author's life; Volume VIII was edited by George Ord and Volume IX completed by him from Wilson's notes and his own observations. Sabin 104597; Zimmer page 679. Pencil signature of Francis C. Stanwood on each title page dating the binding to 1907. A superb American production. Along with Audubon it is one of the color plate masterpieces of the 19th century, significantly less expensive to obtain though becoming very difficult to locate.
(Inventory #: 014393)