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Willughby, Francis; RAY, John (editor).

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 figu

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

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); [12], 53, [3], 55-271, [3], 273-441, [7] pp., 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.


Keynes, Ray 39; Nissen IVB 991, Norman II, 1792; Wing W 2880.

Stock ID:104049

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