Ornithologiae Libri Tres: in quibus aves omnes hactenus cognitae in methodum naturis suis convenientem redactae accurate describuntur
By Willughby, Francis and Ray, John (Willughbeii, Francisci atque Raius, Joannes)
Pp. 12, 307, (5, index); 77 full-page engraved plates, 2 text-figures, 2 tables. Publisher’s original full cream-colored vellum over boards, spine with six raised bands lettered by hand in the second compartment, folio (15 3/8 x 9 3/8; 388 x 240 mm). This is the first edition, first issue with the title page printed in red and black and with the coat of arms of the Royal Society printed on the title page. This appears to the large paper copy, printed on thick and fine paper, the size of the cut copy is 15 3/8 x 9 3/4 as described by Mullens and Swann, p. 650-651. This first printing is also called the Widow’s Edition as it was completed by John Ray after Willughby’s death with funding provided by his widow. Zimmer (p. 676-677) calls this important volume “the cornerstone of modern systematic ornithology, being the first book on the classification of birds without respect to geographical boundaries.” Casey Wood (p. 629) describes it “one of the most important treatises on ornithology of all time, being the first systematic classification of birds of the world.” The work contains descriptions of all of the birds known to the authors or adjudged by them to be sufficiently authenticated by the published accounts of others. The treatise is divided into three sections; birds in general, land birds and water birds to which is added an appendix on birds of doubtful origin. There is an inscription in Latin in an old hand at the bottom margin of the title page; there are no other ownership marks and few signs of use.
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|Condition Description||There is a touch of faint foxing to a few of the text pages, the fine engraved plates are all very bright and clean, the original vellum is lightly soiled, there is a faint scratch on the front cover and some discoloration along the bottom edge of the rear cover; this is a tight and clean copy in near fine condition.|