MEŸER, Henry Leonard. Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and Their Eggs. London, S. & J. Bentley, Wilson, and Fley for G. Willis, and (vol. VII) by S. & J. Bentley and Henry Fley for Willis and Sotheran, 1853-1857. £1750
7 vols in 8vo, 435 hand-coloured lithographic plates by Meÿer and family, a spledid set bound in the publisher’s red straight-grained morocco elaborately gilt, boards with gilt double-ruled and ornamental frames.
Second octavo edition. Meÿer’s British Birds is considered ‘the finest and most complete atlas of portraits of British avifauna (with their eggs) ever published’ (Wood). Meÿer was a British artist of Dutch extraction aiming to represent birds in a natural, life-like manner. His characteristically wonderfully detailed, accurate and attractive plates resulted from a collaboration of the Meÿer family, headed by Meÿer’s wife, ‘an accomplished artist, [who] not only executed such drawings as were not made by her husband, but drew many of the plates upon the stones’ (Mullens and Swann, p. 399), with colouring done by their children.
This edition has, among other things, ‘an extra plate of eggs which were unknown when the previous edition was published’ (Wood). This set is more elaborately illustrated than many extant copies, including that listed by Wood: vol. I of this set has one additional plate of eggs and three further black-and-white plates, including the plate of the Golden Eagle’s beak (referred to on p. 139 but bound in towards the beginning of the volume, beside the plate of the Golden Eagle).