LEWIN, William (1747-1795). The Birds of Great Britain, systematically arranged, accurately engraved, and painted from nature. London: J. Johnson, 1795-1797- [1801].

$ 7,800.00

8 parts in 4 volumes. 4to., (11 5/8 x 9 2/8 inches). Half-titles, title-pages to each volume and text in English and French. Frontispiece and 277 (numbered 1-267) hand-coloured engraved plates of birds and 58 (numbered 1-59) of their eggs (the occasional spot, but BRIGHT). Contemporary diced calf gilt (rebacked to style with leatherette).  

Provenance: with the contemporary armorial bookplates of John Arden (1742-1823), High Sheriff of Cheshire, on each front paste-down; 19th-century engraved bookplates of Samuel Gardner on each front paste-down.  "the first . attempt to illustrate the eggs of British avifauna" (DNB)  

Second and enlarged edition, first engraved edition.

"In the late 1780s, after more than twenty years of study and preparation, Lewin began publishing "The Birds of Great Britain, with their eggs, accurately figured" (7 vols., 1789-94). It was dedicated to Latham, from whom, as well as from Parkinson and Thomas Pennant, Lewin had received material assistance. Subscribers for the first edition were limited to sixty, as Lewin painted every illustration by hand himself. His work featured plates of eggs from the collection of his patron the dowager duchess of Portland, and was probably the first such attempt to illustrate the eggs of British avifauna. In the descriptions of birds Lewin was helped by his sons. The second edition of the work, "The birds of Great Britain, systematically arranged...", appeared in eight volumes from 1795 to 1801. Lewin engraved plates for volumes one to three himself, while plates in volumes four to eight were contributed by his sons, signed as Thomas, Thomas William, and John William [also an artist, who settled in Australia]. (It was Lewin's sons who completed this work after his death.)" (DNB). Anker 306; Nissen 562; Fine Bird Books p. 91. Catalogued by Kate Hunter