Coloured Illustrations of British Birds and Their Eggs

MEYER, Henry Leonard. Coloured Illustrations of British Birds and Their Eggs.

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MEYER, Henry Leonard. Coloured Illustrations of British Birds and Their Eggs. Willis and Sotheran, 1857.

8vo. 7 vols. Contemporary full green morocco, ornate gilt foliate borders to sides, spines with gilt raised bands, gilt tools and lettering, gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt; 322 numbered hand-coloured plates of birds, 100 handcoloured plates of eggs, 8 unnumbered, uncoloured plates of birds; a little foxing throughout, a very good, handsome set. Provenance: each volume with the bookplate of J. Fenwick Lansdowne (1937-2008), the celebrated Canadian wildlife artist who was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1976 for his distinctive artwork that shows the influence of Audubon while maintaining a greater fidelity to life. Also with cancelled bookplates of the library at Charterhouse school, with other ownership inscriptions of the Fosbery family to prelims.
Third edition, fourth printing. The story of the genesis of this book is somewhat complex - as Nissen notes, not only Meyer but also his wife and two children were heavily involved in its production and its homespun nature led to many variations between editions. The plates of eggs in particular vary from copy to copy, 100-104 being the norm. Nevertheless, the plates and the text are of the highest quality, the illustrations showing a fine sensitivity for detail and colour, the latter being especially important in the depiction of the eggs. This is a scarce and important work of 19th century ornithology. Wood refers to the first folio edition of this work thus: "With the possible exception of Lord Lilford's Birds, this is the finest and most complete atlas of portraits of British avifauna (with their eggs) ever published."
Nissen 628; Zimmer IVB p.433; Wood p. 462