The first great bird book, 1555
Belon, Pierre, 1517-1564.
"Ciconia" and "Hemantopus,"
L'histoire de la nature des oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions; & nafs portraicts retirez du naturel: escrit en sept livres.
Paris: G. Cavellat, 1555. From the library of J. van den Heuven, 1820. Later polished calf.
--the French naturalist Pierre Belon studied medicine at Paris and botany at Wittenberg, before extensive travels in Greece and the Middle East. His interest in comparative anatomy also led to a parallel volume on fishes. Belon drew moral lessons from the behavior he observed, and the white stork (Ciconia) is depicted here holding food for its young. The woodcut illustrations to Belon's book were made by C.L. Gourdet from drawings by P. Gourdet.
Aldrovandi, Ulisse, 1522-1605?
"Grus balearica plinii" and "Grus balearica foemina," in vol. II, lib. XX,
Ulyssis Aldrovandi . . . Ornithologi, hoc est de avibus histori, libri XII.
3 vols. Bononi: Ex Camerali Typographia Manolessiana, 1600-1681 (imprint varies; vol. 2,
1645). Brown half calf, blue paste-paper covered boards.
--The Italian scholar Ulisse Aldrovandi was a professor at Bologna, and his three volumes on birds (1599) and his volume on insects (1602) were meant to be the initial installments of a comprehensive work on natural history, compiled from classical and published sources as well as from actual specimens. The illustrations (shown here are two cranes) were prepared by professional artists, not by Aldrovandi himself.
New species in the age of sea-exploration
Jonstonus, Joannes, 1603-1675.
[Pua, Pica, Emeu, Mergus, etc.], Tab. 56, Lib. V,
Historiae naturalis . . . , cum aenis figuris.
6 pts. in 2 v. Amstelodami: apud I.I. fil. Schipper, 1657. Contemporary sprinkled calf, rebacked.
Purchased from the John Shaw Billings Endowment.
--The Scotsman John Johnston lived abroad for most of his life, and his book on birds, first published in Frankfurt in 1650-55, is his best-known work. Jonstonus's text was largely a compilation, but he was especially proud of introducing newly-discovered exotic species, as in this copperplate engraving, where the toucan is juxtaposed with two kinds of "emeu," one from the Moluccas and the other a South American rhea, while below are shown a penguin and (bottom left) a humming-bird. The library has a first edition of Jonstonus's 1650, first, volume, in contemporary vellum, but not of the 1665, second, volume.
An Illustrated Renaissance Falconry Book
Latham's falconry: or, the faulcons lure, and cure: in two books. . . . Gathered by long practice and experience, and published for the delight of noble mindes, and instruction of young faulconers in things pertaining to this princely art.
2 vols. in one. London: Printed by Thomas Harper, for Iohn Harison, 1633. Bookplate of John Blackburne. Later half calf, marbled boards. Schwerdt, I, 302.
--Some of the most detailed early knowledge of birds came from the aristocratic sport of hawking or falconry. Latham came from a family of falconers, and served under the Master of the Hawks in King James I & VI's royal household. His work, was first published in two parts in 1614-1618.