History Of British Birds. - The Figures Engraved On Wood By T. Bewick. - Vol. I. Containing The History And Description Of Land Birds. (Vol. II. Containing The History And Description Of Water Birds.) -

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Newcastle:: Printed By Sol. Hodgson, For Beilby & T. Bewick: Sold By Them, And By G. G. & J. Robinson, London. [Price 10s. 6d. in Boards.], 1797. (-1804.)

Physical Description

2 vols.; 205 mm. (Octavo.)

General Note

Vol. I: [2], xxx, 335, [1] p. - Vol. II: xx, 400 p., illus.


Vol. I: [Half-t., t.p.] - Preface - Introduction - Contents Of The First Volume - [Text with illus.] - [Publishers' advertisement]. (Note: in many copies (incl. that of the Royal Academy) the half-title has been transposed to follow p. xxx.) - Vol. II: [T.p.] - Advertisement (by Thomas Bewick) - Introduction To The History Of British Water Birds - Contents Of The Second Volume - [Text with illus.].

Responsibility Note

The illustrations are unsigned.


ESTC, N33395
J. Uglow, Nature's engraver: a life of Thomas Bewick (2006).
A memoir of Thomas Bewick written by himself, ed. I. Bain (rev. 1979).
S. Roscoe, Thomas Bewick: a bibliography raisonnée (1953/R1973).

Summary Note

The publication-date of Volume II was 1804. Its imprint reads, 'Newcastle: Printed By Edward Walker, For T. Bewick: Sold By Him, And Longman And Rees, London. [Price 18s. in Boards.] - 1804.'

According to ESTC variant title pages of Volume I give different prices in the imprint: some, '10s. 6d' [as in Royal Academy's copy]; others, '11.1s'; or '13s.'; or '18s.' [all these advertise the 3rd ed. of the General History of Quadrupeds on the final page]; or 'one guinea' [this advertises the 4th edition of Quadrupeds on the final page]. ESTC adds that a new setting of the text was issued later in 1797 [i.e. 1798?]; with the price variations, '10s.6d.' or '13s' or '15s' [all adevrtising the 4th ed. of Quadrupeds on the final page].

The half-title of Volume I reads, 'History Of British Birds. - Vol. I.'

As well as Bewick's illustrations of the birds the book contains many decorative tail-pieces by him.

The last page of Volume I carries an advertisement, 'Lately was published, Price 9s. in Boards, The Third Edition Of A General History Of Quadrupeds. The Figures Engraved On Wood By T. Bewick. Newcastle Upon Tyne ...'.


The front and back pastedowns of Volume II carry the 19th-century bookplate of R.L. Watson.

Binding Note

19th-century half green morocco, green cloth-covered boards, rebacked in 1990 retaining earlier spine-piece; brown morocco spine-labels lettered 'Bewick 2 (3)' and 'Birds Vol. I (II)', spines lettered 'R.A.' and '1790 (1804)'.


Birds - Animals - Great Britain - History
Reference books - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century
Pictorial works - Wood engravings - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century


Thomas Bewick, source artist, draughtsman, wood-engraver, publisher, bookseller
Solomon Hodgson, printer
Ralph Beilby, publisher, bookseller
George Robinson, bookseller
George Robinson, bookseller
John Robinson, bookseller
James Robinson, bookseller
Edward Walker, printer, bookseller
R. L. Watson, previous owner
Longman and Rees (London), bookseller