Skip to content

The Ornithology of Francis Willughby

of Middleton in the county of Warwick Esq; fellow of the Royal Society. In three books. Wherein all the birds hitherto known, being reduced into a method sutable to their natures, are accurately described. The descriptions illustrated by most elegant figures, nearly resembling the live birds, engraven in LXXVII copper plates. Translated into English, and enlarged with many additions throughout the whole work. To which are added, three considerable discourses, I. Of the art of fowling: with a description of several nets in two large copper plates. II. Of the ordering of singing birds. III. Of falconry. By John Ray, fellow of the Royal Society.

Stock Code 104049

London, printed by A[ndrew]. C[larke]. for John Martyn, printer to the Royal Society, at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-Yard, 1678

Original price $4,750.00 - Original price $4,750.00
Original price
$4,750.00 - $4,750.00
Current price $4,750.00
A fundamental work for systematic ornithology. The most celebrated early English ornithology. 'It is difficult to underestimate what enormous labour this work entailed. Willughby and Ray's goal was to see, describe and dissect every known bird — assumed to be about 500 at that time (in fact, we now know that there are around 10,000 species of birds in the world). Their second aim was to use these descriptions to construct a biologically meaningful classification of birds. The efficacy of Willughby and Ray's classification of birds was obvious to Carl Linnaeus who, a century later used it more or less unchanged in his own System Naturae' (Tim Birkenhead, The Wonderful Mr. Willoughby).

First edition in English; folio (39 x 25 cm); 80 engraved plates comprising 78 plates of birds showing multiple subjects numbered 1-LXXVIII, and 2 un-numbered plates of netting, bookplate, some minor tears to a few pages; occasional light soiling, contemporary calf, neat restoration to edges and extremities, a very good copy; [12], 53, [3], 55-271, [3], 273-441, [7] pp.

We offer secure and express delivery on all local and international orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website.

About us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper.

Our Bookshop and Gallery can be found in the heart of Mayfair at 106 New Bond Street, where most of our stock is available to view and on public display.

We exhibit at major international art fairs, including TEFAF (Maastricht and New York), Frieze Masters, Art Miami and Masterpiece London, as well as antiquarian & rare book fairs including New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hong Kong.

Read more

Ask us a question


An exceptional experience in the heart of London’s Mayfair for not only seasoned collectors but those considering purchasing their first rare book or print.