A natural history of uncommon birds and of some rare and undescribed animals, quadrupeds, reptiles, fishes, insects, &c. In four parts. [AND] Gleanings of natural history - Glanures d'histoire naturelle [In three volumes]. [Complete].
Item ID 71762
London, for the author, 1743-1764. Seven volumes in seven. Folio (29.4 x 22. 8 cm). Text and 370 engraved plates of which 369 finely hand-coloured), as follows: Part I: Hand-coloured frontispiece, title page with hand-coloured vignettes; wood-engraved head and tail pieces; xx, 53 pp.; 54 plates [1-52; (two not numbered)]. II. Title page, [iii]-viii, xxi-xxiv; 53-128 pp. 55 plates (including the Samojeed, uncoloured) [53-104; (one not numbered - double); 105; (Samojeed)]. III. Title page, dedication leaf, full blank, advertisement leaf, pp. 106-157; 52 plates [106-157]. IV. Title page (dated 1751), dedication leaf, [ii] pp. (preface), [ii] pp. (subscribers list); 158-248 pp.; 58 plates [158-177; (three not numbered); 178-195; (two not numbered); 196-210]. V. Frontispiece portrait of the author, title page with engraved vignettes, dedication leaf; pp. 1-108; 50 plates [211-260]. VI. Two title pages (English and French), [iii] (dedication leaves), [iv] subscribers list; xxxv (preface), 109-215, [iv] (index); 50 plates. [261-310]. VII. Two title pages (English and French), dedication leaf, [ii] (subscribers list), vii (preface), 221-347 pp.; 52 plates [311-362]. Uniform contemporary polished calf. Spines with five raised bands; compartments rich gilt with floral patterns and two morocco labels with gilt title. Gilt-panelled boards. Inner dentelles. Marbled endpapers. Yellow edges. A magnificent (over) complete set of Edwards's magnum opus. A unique set, in fact, as there are eight additional plates, for a total of 370 plates instead of the usual 362. The additional plates comprise two zebra plates in part 1; three bird plates (all parrots), in part IV, with unique, handwritten explanations by Edwards on plate versos; two South American monkey plates in part IV; and one plate which is actually double. The monkey plates - of a marmoset, "Cagui", and a baboon - are UNIQUE. No other copies are known. The Cagui is illustrated again (differently) in volume V, plate 218. The British naturalist, ornithologist and illustrator George Edwards (1694-1773) was known as the "Father of British Ornithology", a reputation founded on this work. Original material by Edwards is very rare. Perhaps this was his personal copy. "In 1733, on the recommendation of Hans Sloane, he was appointed librarian to the Royal College of Physicians in London. Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum, had employed George Edwards as a natural history painter for many years, and Edwards drew miniature figures of animals for him. Edwards visited Sloane once a week to share news and a coffee. Sloane kept track of Edwards's expenses and reimbursed him annually. Edwards served as College librarian for thirty-six years. He was chosen Fellow of the Royal Society and of the London Society of Antiquaries and was rewarded with the Copley Medal" (Wikipedia, after Holl et al.). "Edwards taught himself to etch. He turned his home at the College into a studio, the College itself into a menagerie and ... set about producing his great works, A Natural History of Birds and Gleanings of Natural History, in which he illustrates and vividly describes birds, animals and insects brought to him from around the world." (Mason). The vast majority of the plates show birds. Many served as examples for new species described by Linnaeus. Mammals and reptiles are represented in fair numbers too. A few fishes, and some insects (often sharing a plate with birds) are included. In the three Gleanings volumes, the text is in double columns, English and French (translation by J. du Plessis). Provenance: armorial bookplate of William Hardman on front pastedowns; former owner's inscription, Peter Brooke, dated October 26th 1838, on the front free endpaper recto. A few skilful repairs to the bindings. Light rubbing to boards; some - usually quite light - offsetting; scattered, mostly mild spotting to some text sections; most text leaves and plates, however, clean. This work is prone to spotting and offsetting, but this copy is only very lightly affected. Anker, 124, 126; Holl et al. (1836) Memoir of Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum ; Mason, A. S. (1992) George Edwards: the Bedell and his birds ; Nissen IVB, 288; Sitwell, p. 93; Zimmer, pp. 192-194.