PENNANT, Thomas (1726-1798). Genera of Birds. London: B. White, 1781.

$ 450.00

Small 4to., (10 x 7 ¾ inches). Engraved vignette title page, Advertisement. Fine engraved frontispiece, 14 engraved plates (some browning and spotting). Contemporary half calf, marbled boards (spine quite worn with loss, overall worn).

Provenance: Ink library stamps to first few pages.

First illustrated edition, first published without illustrations in Edinburgh in 1773. Pennant was a Welsh naturalist best known for his acclaimed books “British Zoology,” the “History of Quadrupeds,” “Arctic Zoology,” and “Indian Zoology.” “The naturalist and traveller Thomas Pennant (1726–98) helped popularise British ornithology by meticulously compiling and arranging existing research. At the age of twelve, Pennant had been given Francis Willughby's Ornithology (1678), to which he credited his lifelong love of natural history. His own writings on ornithology are heavily based on the classification system devised by Willughby and John Ray, which divides birds primarily into land birds and waterfowl. Although Pennant's brief, accessible book brought few original insights to the field, it boosted public interest in the study and classification of birds. The detailed descriptions of the appearance and habits of each bird are enlivened by the author's elegant turns of phrase. This better-known 1781 version of the 1773 original includes fifteen fine engravings [as here]” (Cambridge introduction).

The birds included in this volume are: Crested Hobby (frontis), White Collared Parrot, Capreows Jackamar and Yellow-cheeked-creeper (in one plate), Red-Headed King-Fisher, Green Tody and Brown Today (in one plate), Indian Bee Eater, Honeysuckers, Purple Chatterer, Crested Manakin and Golden Headed M. (in one plate), Dwarf Curlew, Little Sandpiper, Spanish Duck, Patagonian Pinguin [sic], Pelecan [sic], and Frigat Pelecan [sic]. Anker 396; Nissen IVB 712; Zimmer, p. 489.