BAIRD, Spencer Fullerton (1823-1887); Thomas Mayo BREWER (1814-1880); and Robert RIDGWAY (1850-1929)
A History of North American Birds ... Land Birds ...
Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1875. 3 volumes, 4to. (10 1/2 x 8 inches). 64 hand-coloured lithographs and numerous illustrations. Extra-illustrated with 36 hand-coloured lithographs after Ridgway.
Publisher's purple cloth, coveres bordered in blind, upper covers and spine lettered in gilt (spines slightly faded)
A rare deluxe, coloured and extra-illustrated edition of Baird, Brewer and Ridgway's classic of American ornithology.
"This work contains a description of the birds of North America north of Mexico, including Greenland and Alaska. The focus of this work is an account of the life history of the species, to which is added information about the geographical distribution of the birds and a brief description of the eggs and the individual species. Baird and Ridgway supplied the descriptive parts of the work, while Dr. Brewer dealt with the habits of the birds" (Anker). Little Brown & Co. advertisements confirm that their Land Birds was issued with 64 plates (uncolored at $10 per volume, or coloured at $20 per volume). However, a letter from the librarian at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia published in the October 1902 issue of the Auk reveals the existence of the present deluxe issue of the Land Birds, with additional hand-coloured plates after Ridgway: "While the existence of an edition of this work with these plates may be known to many ornithologists, yet there is no printed record of such, as far as the present writer is aware. No mention of these plates is made in Coues's 'Bibliography' nor in the several reviews of the 'Land Birds' to which I have had access. Dr. C. W. Richmond informs me that Mr. Ridgway has never seen a copy of the work with these plates although he has some loose plates in his possession" (letter from William J. Fox published in The Auk, October 1902). Neither Nissen, Anker, Zimmer nor Sitwell mention this deluxe issue. A contemporary advertisement (in an 1882 edition of The Scientist's International Directory), however, reveals that this deluxe extra-illustrated issue "beautifully colored by hand" was available for $75 in cloth (as here) or $95 in full morocco. "One of the great works on North American ornithology and for many years a standard reference ... the first major work on North American birds to supersede Audubon's Ornithological Biography of 1831-39 as a comprehensive general source" (Ellis Collection). We have only once before encountered the deluxe, extra-illustrated hand colored issue.
Nissen 63; Anker 25; Sitwell, Fine Bird Books, page 75; Ellis Collection 137; Zimmer, p. 34.