We have three new additions to our natural history inventory- several bird prints from Alexander Wilson’s “American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of the Birds of the United States.” One of America’s great naturalists and nicknamed the “father of American ornithology,” Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) learned much of birding from friend and fellow bird-enthusiast William Bartram. Working out of his father’s famous botanical garden in Philadelphia, Bartram taught Wilson how to draw, identify, and document different bird species. Wilson soon set out to document every species of bird in North America, an impressive undertaking that led to the creation of “American Ornithology”. Nine volumes of “American Ornithology” were published during Wilson’s lifetime. Of the 268 species of birds illustrated, 26 had not previously been described.
C.L Bonaparte published a supplement to “American Ornithology” in 1825-33, to complete what Wilson started, with prints by Titian Ramsey Peale and Alexander Rider. A second edition printed from the original plates was published by Collins & Co. & Harrison Hall in 1829.
The three prints shown below are from the first edition of “American Ornithology”, published between 1808 and 1814. Engraved and hand-colored, these charming prints would make a beautiful addition to any print collector’s walls or personal collection.