Gallery Bookshop Index Queries Contact home Americana Maps NatHist Fine Vanity Views Historical British Sporting Marine AmerInd Rare

The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Natural History

Antique Bird Prints

Ornithological illustrations were created not just as part of the pursuit of scientific knowledge
but also as objects of considerable æsthetic beauty.

[ Audubon (second octavo) | Christian Knowledge | Daniell | Doughty ]
[ Gentry | Latham | Lewin | Martinet | Pennant | Pope | Selby ]


Audubon Birds
John James Audubon.

From The Birds of America. Double Elephant Folio and Royal Octavo editions. $75 to $6,800.

Lord: Summer Teal
Thomas Lord. 1791-96.

Entire System of Ornithology or Ecumenical History of British Birds. Quarto. $450

William Lewin. 1795-1801.

The Birds of Great Britain .... Quarto. $80 to $130.

Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. Engraved by Martinet, [1749-1804].

From Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux Small folio. $250 to $650.

Alexander Pope. 1877-78.

Upland Game Birds and Water Fowl of the United States. Folio $450 to $650.

William Daniell. 1807.

Natural history prints by this noted British artist. Octavo. $75 to $90.

Thomas Doughty. 1830-32.

Unusual images from an early American sporting work. Quarto. $175 to $250.

Christian Knowledge
Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. 1845-47.

Unusual images from a British work. Quarto. $125 to $270.

Thomas Pennant. 1766.

The British Zoology. Folio. $300 to $700.

Prideaux John Selby. 1821-1834.

Illustrations of Ornithology. Folio. $300 to $600.

Martinet: Grande Fregate de CayenneSpacerMartinet: Beccassine
After various artists. From Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon's Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux. Paris, [1749-1804]. Small folio. Engravings by F.N. Martinet. Original hand-coloring. Fine condition.

The greatest name in France in the field of natural history during the eighteenth century was the Comte de Buffon (1707-1788). Known best in America as the target of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia in which the patriotic American scholar argued against a theory that New World species were inferior, Buffon enjoys a much greater reputation in Europe. He was to France what Linnaeus was to Sweden, and he is best known as the first natural scientist to postulate that man evolved from apes.

Prints from his Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux, have a delicacy of drawing and engraving that has lead some to claim that they are the finest ever published. Buffon believed that there were between fifteen hundred and two thousand species of birds in the world, and he was in the forefront in attempting to name them. He usually gave them colloquial names and left the classification with Latin titles to be done by others. Drawn by Buffon and other artists, these prints were engraved by Martinet and hand-colored at the time.

Martinet: Ombrette du Senegal

Phillip: Rainbow LorikeetSpacerPhillip: Kookaburra
From Arthur Phillip. The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay; with an Account of the Establishment of the Colonies of Port Jackson and Norfolk Island... to which are added the Journals of Lieuts. Shortland, Watts, Ball and Capt. Marshall with an Account of their New Discoveries. London: John Stockdale, 1789. Quarto. Copper engravings. Original hand color. Excellent condition. Ref: Ferguson 47; Hill p.233; Wantrup p.59.

From the first official account of the first settlement in Australia. Compiled from the official reports of Governor Arthur Phillip, this work was the first authentic and official account of the expedition to New South Wales and of the foundation of the colony. The work includes detailed descriptions of the birds and animals and of tentative explorations, as well as the earliest engraved view of the colony.

Lord: Summer Teal
"The Summer Teal." From Thomas Lord's Entire System of Ornithology or Ecumenical History of British Birds. Line engravings (hand colored). London: by the author, 1791-96. 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 (plate mark). Light mat burn. Else very good condition.

This ornithology is one of the rarest to be found complete because even when it was issued, the plates were considered obsolete for science and primitive as art. Thus, not many copies were sold. Mullens and Swann's Bibliography of British Ornithology praises the art and states that the dating of each plate is very useful. Over the years these inheritors of the concepts of George Edwards, Marc Catesby and the Count de Buffon have taken on an aura of folk art in their own right. They are clear, bright, and delightful. $450

Based on Francois Levaillant's Histoire naturelle des Oiseaux d'Afrique, first published in Paris 1796-1808. 9 1/4 x 7 1/4 (platemark). Etchings. Original hand color. These plates are from a rare and never completed London edition with these dated 1805-1808. No record of these prints is found in Sitwell or Anker.

Levaillant is credited with being the best recorder of exotic birds until the advent of John Gould and his colleagues in the mid-nineteenth century. The artist was Johann Lebrecht Reinold who worked closely with the editor to open the world of African ornithology to Europeans. Sitwell records copying but incomplete editions in Nuremberg, 1797-1802, Halle in 1798, and Amsterdam in 1812. These prints were engraved by Pass and Reynolds in London and published by J. Wilkes. The misnumbering is evidence that these were trial printings and not part of a finished work. The quality of the engraving and hand coloring is superb.

Latham: The SecretarySpacerLatham: Duree Finch

John Latham. From A General History of Birds. London: 1821-28. Quarto. Engravings with original hand color. Condition as noted.

John Latham (1740-1837) was an English physician, naturalist and author. Frequently given the title, "grandfather" of Australian ornithology, he catalogued and named many Australian species.

Smit pl. 95SpacerSmit pl. 89SpacerSmit pl. 90

Joseph Smit. Plate from P. L. Sclater, "Supplementary Notes on the Curassows now or lately living in the Society's Gardens." London: Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, Vol. 10, part 12, 1879. 12 1/4 x 9 1/2. Lithograph. Printed by M. & N. Hanhart. Very good condition.

These attractive birds, mostly native to South America, were illustrated by Dutch born Smit (1836-1929). Joseph Smit relocated in 1866 with his wife and family to London where he met Joseph Wolf (1820-1899),one of the world's finest animal painters. They formed both a friendship and a collaboration, illustrating many bird and mammal books together during the 1870s through the 1890s, with Wolf doing the drawing and Smit the lithography. After Wolf's death Smit worked less on bird books, becoming the leading mammal illustrator in England for the rest of his productive life.

Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913) was an English lawyer and zoologist, expert ornithologist, and for 42 years the Secretary of the Zoological Society of London.

Gentry Title page
From Thomas G. Gentry's Nests and Eggs of Birds of the United States. Philadelphia: J.A. Wagenseller, 1882. Quarto. Chromolithographs. Full margins. Very good condition.

A bright group of charming prints showing the nests and eggs of the birds of the United States. In response to the general public interest in natural history during the latter part of the nineteenth century, Gentry, a member of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science, provided a different perspective on the birds, showing them in lifelike situations in or near their nests. This provided an interesting addition to the viewer's understanding of the natural world, as well as a delight for the eyes.

Cassell: Golden HamburghSpacerCassell: Silver Hamburgh

From The Illustrated Book of Poultry. London: Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, 1890. 8 x 6 3/4 (image). Quarto. Chromolithograph. Very good condition.

From a delightful series of 'portraits' of prize poultry and fowl. The last part of the nineteenth century was the time when wonderful chromolithographs were being produced in England and the United States, and these prints are excellent examples of the process. The award winning birds are appropriately displayed with their fine plumage and bright colors. They strut about proudly in equally cheerful farm-like settings. The combination of bold subjects, impressive demeanor, and vivid color make for a series of truly jovial prints.

We have more prints from this series. Call or email for more information.


[ Audubon (folio) | Audubon (second octavo) | Christian Knowledge ]
[ Daniell | Doughty | Gentry | Pennant | Pope | Selby ]

GoGo to page with reference books on ornithological illustration

Natural History Spacer GallerySpacer HomeSpacer Site MapSpacer Book shop


For further information, please contact:

106 E. Lancaster Avenue, Lower Level
Wayne, PA 19087 USA

©The Philadelphia Print Shop Last updated July 16, 2021