Thomas BEWICK History of British Birds 1805 2 vols
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Thomas Bewick [and Ralph Beilby]. A History of British Birds. Newcastle: for the author, 1805. Second edition, in two volumes, Land Birds and Water Birds (xxxviii, 346; xxii, 400). Nearly three hundred wood engravings of birds plus many head and tail pieces, etc., in the inimitable Bewick style. Tall octavo in three-quarter leather over marbled paper, plain gilt titles and decoration to spines (hinges cracked but holding firm, wear to the extremities); large paper with generous margins framing the text and illustrations (lightly foxed first few prelims). Land Birds, first published in 1797, was seven years in the making and Water Birds, published in 1804, five (All the while, of course, Bewick carried on the work of his busy design and engraving business). The result, taken together with his Quadrupeds, as Jenny Uglow says in her admirable biography Nature’s Engraver (Faber 2006), ‘brought nature to life, and revived the nearly forgotten art of wood engraving’ (306). Engravings accompanying clean text are sharp and clear. A handsome copy of an enduring ornithological classic.