A natural history of birds


A natural history of birds : most of which have not been figur'd or describ'd, and others very little known from obscure or too brief descriptions without figures, or from figures very ill design'd

Title Variants

Alternative: Natural history of uncommon birds, and of some other rare and undescribed animals, quadrupeds, fishes, reptiles, insects &c

Related Titles

Succeeded by: Gleanings of natural history : exhibiting figures of quadrupeds, birds, insects, plants &c., most of which have not, till now, been either figured or described : with descriptions of seventy different subjects


Edwards, George, 1694-1773 , author, illustrator

Edwards, George, 1694-1773 , Histoire naturelle de divers oiseaux
Edwards, George, 1694-1773 , Some brief instructions for etching or engraving on copper-plates, with aqua fortis
Edwards, George, 1694-1773 , Brief and general idea of drawing, and painting in water-colours
Edwards, George, 1694-1773 , Gleanings of natural history




Published material

Publication info

London, Printed for the author, at the College of Physicians in Warwick-Lane, MDCCXLIII-MDCCLI [1743-1751, i.e. 1750-1776?]


The general title in full: A natural history of uncommon birds, and of some other rare and undescribed animals: quadrupeds, fishes, reptiles, insects, &c. : exhibited in two hundred and ten copper-plates, from designs copied immediately from nature and curiously coloured after life. With a full and accurate description of each figure. To which is added, a brief and general idea of drawing and painting in water-colours; with instructions for etching on copper with aqua fortis: likewise some thoughts on the passage of birds; and additions to many of the subjects described in this work. In four parts. By George Edwards, library-keeper to the Royal College of Physicians.

"This work having been delivered in parts at different times during the term of about ten years ... it was not at first possible to give it a proper general title ... but since the book is now brought to a conclusion, I ... prefix the foregoing general title page."--Part 1, page [3] (recto side of leaf pi2).

"The author seems to have intended each volume to the the last one, but extended the work to four parts and continued it under the title of 'Gleanings of natural history' ... to seven parts. The work was issued under the subtitles; the full title, with the introduction was added at the completion of the fourth part. The four parts of the present title were translated into French and issued, mostly, subsequent to their respective originals" --Catalogue of the Edward E. Ayer Ornithological Library, page 193.

Apparently parts 1 and 2 are the third issue of the first edition published in 1776, according to Lisney's Bibliography of British Lepidoptera (numbers 190 and 194), although retaining the original dates of MDCCXLIII and MDCCXLVII on the title pages. Parts 3 and 4 are apparently from the first edition, issued in 1750 and 1751 respectively (possibly unsold copies later purchased together with the 1776 issue of parts 1 and 2 from Edwards' successor, publisher James Robson).

"The general title and introduction were issued with the fourth part. The description of each plate is limited to one page of text, the type face varying slightly in size according to the amount of material included, and for eache of reference the pagination corresponds to the plate numbers." --Lisney, no. 188.

The frontispiece has caption: "Georgii Edvardi Ornithologia nova."

Part 2 has the unnumbered plate captioned "un samojeed" bound in between pages 118 and 119. As Lisney notes for part 2 in the entry for 195 in his Bibliography of British Lepidoptera, "Gatherings S and T have been modified with the numbers of the missing pages crowded on pages 119 and 120 so that page numbers 119, 120 and 121, and 122, 123 and 124 occupy opposite sides of one leaf. Leaf S2 is signed S2 & T."

Part 1 (1743, i.e. 1776) contains plates numbered 1-52; part 2 (1747, i.e. 1776) contains plates 53-105; part 3 ( 1750) contains plates 106-157; and part 4 (1751) contains plates 158-210.

Anker, J. Bird books and bird art, | 124

Catalogue of the Edward E. Ayer Ornithological Library | pages 192-196

Nissen, C. Illustrierten Vogelbücher, | 286

Lisney, Arthur A. A bibliography of British Lepidoptera, 1608-1799, | 190 [part 1]; 195 [part 2]; 198 [part 3]; and 201 [part 4]


18th century , Animals , Birds , Copper engravings (Visual works) , Early works to 1800 , England , Engraving , Hand coloring , Illustrated works , London , Pictorial works , Technique , Watercolor painting

Call Number

QL674 .E26 1743




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.148448
OCLC: 6066165


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