First edition, first impression of A History of British Birds by the Reverend F.O. Morris, six volumes bound in an attractive full leather binding.
Octavo, [six volumes], iv, 364pp; iv, 360pp; iv, 391pp; iv, 330pp; iv, 315pp; iv, 290pp. Full red polished calf, triple gilt-ruled border on covers with florets at corners. Titles in gilt over tan leather spine labels, raised bands with gilt bird and floral motifs in compartments. All edges gilt. Marbled endpapers, decorative gilt turn-ins and board edges. Usual offsetting to free endpapers due to turn-ins. Bound by Root & Son of London. Front cover of Volume I professionally reattached and inner hinge reinforced. Solid bindings, sunning to spines, corners bumped, light scratches to leather. Minor rubbing to spine of Volume III, a few ink spots to front cover of Volume V. Foxing to endpapers and mild intermittent foxing to text pages. 357 of 358 hand-colored engravings with tissue covers (plate 110 of the “Redpole” is lacking), colors bright, mild intermittent foxing and a few finger marks, small closed tear to fore edge of plate 46* but not affecting image. (Fine Bird Books, 1990 p. 125) (Wood 472) (Mullens & Swann p. 417) A handsome example of this popular ornithological work from the mid-nineteenth century.
Rev. Francis O. Morris (1810-1893) was a prolific writer, with A History of British Birds being considered his magnum opus. Originally issued in monthly parts over a period of seven years, this work was published by Groombridge and Sons of London and printed by noted engraver Benjamin Fawcett. The initial concept was developed by Fawcett, and he asked Morris to write the text. Fawcett personally engraved the wood-block plates for each illustration. The work was financially successful and extremely popular, being reissued several times and going through multiple editions. It was particularly well received by amateur ornithologists and taxidermists. This copy is a first edition, first impression, with each illustration having a beige-colored background and a plate number below each bird’s name. The engravings are hand-colored in full, both the bird and its surroundings.