ALBIN, Eleazar

A natural history of birds.


A natural history of birds.
Illustrated with a hundred and one copper plates, curiously engraven from the life. Published by the author Eleazar Albin, and carefully colour’d by his daughter and self, from the originals, drawn from the live birds.
London Printed for the author: and sold by William Innys in St. Paul’s Church Yard; John Clarke under the Royal-Exchange, Cornhill; and John Brindley at the King’s Arms in New Bond-Street, 1731-1734

In stock


The first British bird 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).


First edition, first issue. 3 volumes, 4to., (12 x 9 3/4 x 3 inches) [8],96,[4]; [8],92,[2]; [8],95,[1] pp., 306 etched plates with original hand-colour, captioned in Latin and English within the plate mark, a few plates cropped, occasional light soiling, generally a clean well margined copy, contemporary mottled calf, covers with broad gilt borders, sometime expertly rebacked preserving richly gilt spines, red and green morocco labels, neat restoration to some corners, edges rubbed, an excellent set.


Anker, 4 & 5; Jackson, Bird Etchings pp 65-75; Mullens & Swann p8; Nissen IVB, 14.


Stock ID: 97615