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ALBIN, Eleazar.

A Natural History of Birds. [with] A Natural Hstory of English Insects.

Stock Code
London, I. W. Innys and R. Manby. II. William Innys, 1738

The first British bird book and the first British insect book to use coloured plates.

'For the most part Albin delineated one bird per plate. The birds are placed on a branch or on the ground, each part coloured. The proportions of the birds are a distinct improvment on those in Willoughby and Ray ... Albin produced his paints in a rather strange manner according to Petiver's account. For his reds he washed and dried vermilion pigment in four waters and then proceeded to 'grind it in boys urine three times, yn [then] gum arabic it and grind it in Brandy wine.' Whatever his methods and however singular the contribution by his sons, this very first effort at colouring plates depicting birds is highly commendable and the results were gratifying, for the book was popular.' ( Jackson, Bird Etchings).

Albin states in the preface to Insects that several prominent society patrons who

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I (Birds). First edition, second issue with later title-pages, 3 vols; 4to; 306 hand-coloured copper engraved plates. II (Insects) Fifth edition, title page, dedication, [4pp] preface, 100 copper plates with original hand colour, each with descriptive text, (unnumbered) each plate numbered. Offsetting from plates to text (stronger in Insects), occasional light foxing and browning (again a little more so in Insects), contemporary green straight-grain morocco gilt by Kalthoeber with his ticket, all edges gilt, light rubbing to joints, a fine set.


Birds: Anker, 4 & 5; Jackson, Bird etchings pp 65-75; Mullens & Swann p8; Nissen IVB, 14. Insects: Lisney 123; Nissen 58.

Stock ID:104540

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