CECIL’S BOOKS OF NATURAL
BOOK OF BIRDS
SELIM H. PEABODY, M.A.
CLARKE AND COMPANY
Being offered at auction is a very rare 1868 edition of
Selmin Peabody’s “Book of Birds.” No other copy of this first edition could be
found that has 6 beautiful hand-painted steel engravings with an additional 5
fine uncolored steel engravings. Peabody
(1829-1903) was the author of a serious of juvenile natural history books
(among other works) titled “Cecil’s Books of Natural History (after his son,
Cecil). The 1st editions "Cecil's Books" all appeared in in the same year--
1868, and were published published by Clarke and Co. These
were issued in single volumes – “Ceicil’s Book of Beasts,” “Cecil’s Book of
Birds,” and “Cecil’s book of Insects.” These 3 titles were reprinted by John B. Alden Co., in 1884 under one cover--which edition is most usually seen on the market. The "Cecil" series was named after the author's son, "Cecil."Color
Bob-o-link (with painting error).
Downy Woodpecker. 3) Group of Humming
Mocking Bird (There is a tare on this
engraving near the hinge that has been neatly repaired with professional
Tricolored-Crested Cockatoo. 6)
White Throated Sparrow.
engravings: 1) Crowned Pigeon. 2)
Carrion Crow. 3) Snow Owl with
Owlets. 4) Belted Kingfisher.
CONDITION: 1868, 1ST edition in original
green boards with blind-stamped gilt titling and embellishments to the front
panel and spine. 5” x 7 ¼” tall. 234
pp. Boards and all pages are tight and
sound. Large, beautiful ornate drop caps
at the beginning of each chapter. 1st
colored engraving of the Bob-O-Link appears originally intended to have been
completely painted, but a mistake was made with paint drops outside the appropriate
areas and the piece was left unfinished. The rest of the colored plates are all beautifully
done and detailed. Uncolored plates are
beautiful as well.
Protective tissue in tact with all plates but one. No signatures or underlining. Dark chocolate endpages. Front loose endpage is missing. There is a small tare on the title page that
has been neatly repaired with professional archival tape. Pages show some occasional light foxing and here-and-there small age spots as
may be noted in accompanying photos.
Boards are sturdy showing light edge-wear to the extremities with
fraying to the corner tips and spine crown and foot edges. A couple of light
spots show on panels otherwise the book is in very good condition.
A very rare copy of Cecil’s Book on Birds with 6 hand colored plates.
Excerpt re Sparrows: a knob of the tree, that
only a practiced nest-hunter would perceive it. The female is very cautious
when going to the nest. When she is near it she rises high in the air, out of
sight, and then drops quickly down in the place, before one who is watching
would be done looking where she vanished. The nest is woven of the cotton-like
wings of certain seeds, like the downy thistle. These are wrought into a strong
soft wall, and are. covered with the mosses which grow near by on the stems of
the tree. In this tiny bed, lined with the wool from the mullen stalk, the bird
lays two little pearly eggs. We have already mentioned Mr. Webber s
Ruby-throats, which he let loose occasionally to hunt for spiders. He caught
them by tempting them into a room with vases of fresh flowers, and then
closing.the window after them. Several injured themselves by dashing against
the window pane. Finally one was caught in the hand, and when he came to look
at it, the little fellow pretended to be dead. It lay on the open palm for some
minutes without any motion; then gently opened one of its bright eyes to see if
the way was clear, and closed it again when it saw its captor watching it. A
mixture of two parts of loaf sugar, one of honey, and ten of water, was
brought, and a drop was touched to the point of its bill. In an instant it came
to life, and was on its feet, sipping the food from a spoon. When it had taken
enough, it sat upon the finger, and plumed its wings as if
quite at home. By the next day it would come from any part of the room, alight
on the edge of the china cup which held its food, and drink eagerly, thrusting
in its bill to the very base. A family of these birds, which Mr. Webber had
tamed, migrated at the usual season. . .