Publisher Information: London: Joannis Martyn, 1676.
Ray, John (1627-1705) Francis Willughby (1635-1672). Francisci Willughbeii . . . ornithologiae libri tres, in quibus aves omnes hactenus cognitae in methodum naturis suis convenientem redactae accurate describuntur . . . Folio. , 307, pp. 77 engraved plates, 2 fold. tables. London: J. Martyn, 1676. 358 x 230 mm. Paneled calf ca. 1676, rebacked, corners repaired, endpapers renewed, a few scratches. Minor dampstaining and toning, margin of one plate repaired, but on the whole good to very good. Engravings of “The Welch bridge at Shrewsbury” and “Chiswick House” tipped to the front pastedown and front flyleaf respectively. 20th century bookplate of Nils Rosén.
First Edition of the work that laid the foundation of modern scientific ornithology. Ray and Willughby were the first ornithologists to discard the Aristotelian principles of classification by function, replacing them with a morphological system based on beak form, foot structure and body size that reflected the true relationships even better than Linnaeus’s “natural system” of sixty years later. The credit for this system almost certainly belongs to Ray, who prepared the final version of the Ornithologia from notes left at Willughby’s death, and who had done the major part of the observations and records during their years of partnership. In an attempt to bring order out of the chaos of tradition, Ray collated his and Willughby’s observations against those recorded by all previous writers, eliminating duplicate species, species vaguely described or reported on hearsay, and species that were clearly fabulous. An English version, which Ray also prepared, was published in 1678. Keynes, Ray, no. 38. Raven, John Ray, ch. 12. Wing W-2879. Garrison-Morton.com 7089.Book Id: 45483