George (1694) Edwards (1694 - 1773)

Lot 19: EDWARDS, George (1694-1773). A Natural History of

Bloomsbury Auctions

November 11, 2008
New York, NY, US

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Description: EDWARDS, George (1694-1773). A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, and of some other rare and undescribed animals. London: the author, "1743-1747-1750-1751". [bound with:] [J. ROBSON (?)] Some Memoirs of the Life and Works of George Edwards. London: for J.Robson, 1776. [and:] Carolus LINNAEUS. A Catalogue of the Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Insects... contained in Edwards's Natural History ... with their Latin names. London: for J. Robson, 1776. 3 works in 4 volumes (as issued). First work: one French and one English letterpress general title, each with an engraved vignette by Johann Sebastian Muller, four French and English letterpress volume titles, text in French and English, translated by David Durand. Uncolored frontispiece to vol. I, portrait of Edwards by Miller after Dandridg [sic.], 210 hand-colored etched plates and one plain etched plate of the 'Samoyed', by and after Edwards. Second work: 4 engraved plates (3 folding). [with:] George EDWARDS. Gleanings of Natural History, exhibiting figures of quadrupeds, birds, insects, plants, &c. Translated by J. du Plessis and Edmond Barker. London: the author, "1758-1760-[1764]". 3 volumes. Letterpress general title with engraved vignette, letterpress English and French volume titles, text in English and French in double columns, 6pp. list of subscribers bound in the final volume. 152 hand-colored etched plates, by and after Edwards and others, engraved tailpiece at the end of the first volume printed from Edwards bookplate. Together 7 volumes, 4to (291 x 230mm). Uniformly bound in contemporary dark blue straight-grained morocco, tooled in gilt to a neo-classical design, the covers with borders of rules, swags, volutes and a starburst, the spines in six compartments with double raised bands, the bands highlighted by gilt fillets and red morocco onlaid strips, lettered in the second compartment, volume number in the third, the others with a repeat decoration of a large classical urn tool, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, g.e. Condition: engraved portrait of Edwards in vol. I loosely inserted, small tears to folds of one folding plate in vol.I, final text leaf of the Memoirs detached, folded and with tears to margins, plate 131 in vol. III with 90mm. clean tear into image area, plate 181 in vol. IV with 10mm. tear to lower blank margin, occasional spotting, 4pp. list of subscribers from vol.I misbound in vol. V; rubbed at extremities, particularly the joints and spines, head of spines of vols. IV and VII slightly chipped. Provenance: Edward Miller Mundy (Shipley Hall, Derbyshire, armorial bookplate); Lynn Abbott Trust. an attractive set of "one of the most important of all bird books, both as a fine bird book and a work of ornithology. it is still high on each list" ("fine bird books"). The date of this set is difficult to ascertain. The contents can be dated to after 1776 (the date of Robson's Memoirs), and before 1802 when William Gardiner and Messrs. Robinson took over publication. The neo-classical style of the decoration of the binding allows this range of dates to be narrowed down to between about 1790 and 1802: the binding is reminiscent of the work of Staggemeir and Welcher or Kalthoeber and is of the highest quality. "Through the influence of Sir Hans Sloane, [Edwards] was chosen Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians ... Almost immediately after he was appointed ... Edwards commenced the preparation of a series of coloured drawings of animals and birds, used later to illustrate [the present work]; for these he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society and subsequently elected a Fellow" (Lisney p.127). Edwards "has been well described as an unscientific but very accurate describer and painter of animal life, and his writings will always remain of paramount authority, from the faithfulness of his description of many new birds, subsequently incorporated in the Linnaean System... He had, says Swainson, the simplicity and piety of Izaac Walton, and may be looked upon as one of greatest worthies. He retired about 1764 to Plaistow, died July 23, 1773." (Mullens and Swann p.194). Anker 124-126; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.93; Lisney 188, 192-193, 197-198, 200-201, 203, 205, 208, and 211; Mullens & Swann pp. 195-196; Nissen IVB 286-289; Zimmer pp.192-194, 196-199, and p.529. (7)
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