Published in 13 parts between October 1866 and November 1869, the preface states it was originally intended to cover “the many new and rare ornithologicalic forms that have been recently discovered in nearly every part of the world’s surface. As it progressed, however, the authors found that it would be more convenient to restrict it to the birds of the Neotropical Region — that is America south of the United States. No other part of the world can vie with Tropical America in the richness of its avifauna; and nowhere else have so many brilliant discoveries been recently made.” “The authors’ original plan was that their work should form a continuation of well-known atlases, such as Buffon and Daubenton. According to the plan, the work was to give figures and descriptions of new and rare birds from all parts of the world; however, the authors soon limited the task to the birds of the Neotropical region” (Anker). “The plates are all by Mr. Smit; they are very beautiful. The whole number of species figured is 104, referring to 51 genera. In most cases, a systematic list of the other American species of the same genus is appended to the final illustration of each, thereby enlarging the scope and greatly increasing the value of the work. Each of the species is systematically treated with synonymy, diagnosis and critical and biographical matter. The authors are the highest authorities in neotropical ornithology and this work is a monument of erudition, industry and artistic excellence” (Coues). “Smit has done an excellent job with these plates, for the lovingly detailed birds stand out sharply against their backgrounds of trees, branches and leaves. It is obvious that Smit enjoyed painting the leaves as well as the birds, for they are beautifully executed.”
First edition. Imperial 4to., 204 pp., 100 hand-coloured lithographs by Joseph Smit, small stamp to verso of title, page 161, and last leaf, red half morocco, gilt, raised bands, top edge gilt, lightly rubbed, a very handsome example.
Provenance: Hugh Levick (armorial bookplate); Madelaine Jay (bookplate); North Devon Atheneum (bequest stamp to title verso).
Jackson, Bird Illustrators: Some Artists in Early Lithography, p.76; Fine Bird Books (1990), page 139; Nissen IVB 844; Anker p.450; Wood p.558; Zimmer p.260; Sabin 78138
Stock ID: 96627