Skip to main content

The Birds of North America; the descriptions of species based chiefly on the collections in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution

Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1860. 2 volumes, quarto. (11 1/2 x 9 inches). 100 hand-coloured lithographic plates by Bowen & Co. of Philadelphia. EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with an original watercolor by Baird for plate VII (Black Headed Turnstone) and with an autograph letter signed by Baird to George N. Lawrence, dated April 21, 1866, "Coues has done well with your birds and I will in a day or two send them back to the house..."

Publisher's purple cloth, covers decoratively stamped in blind, spines lettered in gilt

Provenance: George N. Lawrence (signature on front endpaper)

Ornithologist George Lawrence's copy, with a letter and original watercolor by Baird: an important American work of ornithology by two of the foremost American ornithologists of the 19th century, beautifully illustrated with colour plates.

The chief virtue of this spectacular contribution to the literature of American ornithology is that it completes the work started by the first octavo edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America (1840-1844) and continued by John Cassin's IIlustrations of the Birds of California, Texas [etc.] (([1853]-56). As Baird notes in the preface: "the first series [of Cassin's work], containing fifty species not given by Audubon, was completed in 1855, and has not been extended, having been superceded by the present work" (Preface, p.I, Atlas vol.). "The present work is part of the General Report on North American birds ... published in October, 1858, as one of the series of "Reports of Explorations and Surveys of a Railroad Route to the Pacific Ocean." In this volume, however, will be found many important additions and corrections, including detailed lists of plates, ... descriptions of newly-discovered species, &c, not in the original edition. The Atlas contains one hundred plates, representing one hundred and forty-eight new or unfigured species of North American birds. Of these plates about fifty appear for the first time, having been prepared expressly for this work. The remainder form the ornithological illustrations of the Reports of the Pacific Railroad Survey [1858], and of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey [1859] under Major Emory ... All have, however, been carefully retouched and lettered for this edition, and quite a number redrawn entirely from better and more characteristic specimens. In fact, the plates of the Atlas have been prepared for the present edition with the utmost care and attention" (Advertisement, vol.I). This extraordinary example with provenance to one of the authors, and with an autograph letter by Baird to Lawrence referring to Elliot Coues, and with an original watercolor of a California Black Headed Turnstone.

Bennet p.7; Meisel III, p.484; Sabin 2809.

Item #38722

Price: $7,500.00