Prideaux John Selby, Pl. 3A Cinereous Eagle, hand-colored engraving, 1821-34

$800 this week only (list price $1,500). Offer expires 1-1-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

Prideaux John Selby, Pl. 3A Cinereous Eagle, Young, hand-colored engraving, 1821-34

Acquire a rare antique engraving from Prideaux John Selby’s Illustrations of British Ornithology, Pl. 3A Cinereous Eagle, Young, Hallaeetus albicilla, Mihi. In the accompanying letterpress entry for this species, Selby confirms that the Cinereous and Sea Eagle are actually one and the same species of bird at different ages.

“The identity of the Cinereous and Sea Eagle is now so satisfactorily established, that I have, without any hesitation, brought  the synonyms hitherto assigned to the two supposed species under the same head. ...The similarity in habits and manners, as well as essential specific characters, between the Cinereous and Sea Eagle, first lead me to suppose that they were of the same species, and that the difference in plumage might only proceed from the respective ages of the individuals, as appears in many other instances. An opportunity having occurred of watching the progress of a young Sea Eagle from its earliest age, I eagerly availed myself of it, and witnessed the gradual and interesting changes it underwent, till it had finally acquired the plumage of the adult Cinereous Eagle. During this process, I was happy to find, that my supposition had been anticipated, and in fact ascertained in France, by that eminent naturalist Mons. Cuvier, as well as by Mons. Temmick.” The plate represents the young of this species after the second moult.

This beautiful hand-colored engraving is in perfect condition with excellent color. Elephant folio size.


$800 this week only (list price $1,500). Offer expires 1-1-17.

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Selby’s large-scale engravings were the first work of British ornithology to depict most birds in the size of life. Comprising two volumes with a total of 222 engravings, Illustrations of British Ornithology was published in Edinburgh in 19 parts from 1821 to 1834. Created during the same period that Audubon was publishing the Birds of America, Both Audubon and Selby employed the Scottish engraver W. H. Lizars. A highly skilled engraver himself, Selby employed Lizars’ services only for printing and coloring his own exquisite copper plates. Copies vary, and depending on the folio 222 or 218 of the engravings were hand-colored, many by Daniel McNee.

The artist-naturalist Prideaux John Selby (1788 – 1867) was born in Northumberland, England to a prominent family. As a child, he exhibited a strong interest in ornithology, and by the time he was 12 or 13 years old he had composed his first illustrated notes on common British birds. At a young age, Selby became a member of the Wernerian Natural History Society in Edinburgh. His interests in natural history extended into forestry and entomology, but his devotion to the subject of ornithology was primary. Selby obtained most of the specimens from which the drawings were made himself. Twenty-six of the plates were drawn by Selby’s brother-in-law, Admiral Mitford, and the rest were executed by Selby.

Selby engravings are printed on elephant folio size Whatman paper, which is watermarked with the date the paper was made. Audubon also used Whatman paper for the Birds of America.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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