This exceptional originally hand-colored engraving is from Alexander Wilsons American Ornithology or The Natural History of the Birds of the United States. This ediiton was published in 1871 and featured very clean plates with beautiful original hand-colored.
Alexander Wilson is known as the Father of American Ornithology. Wilsons work, American Ornithology, was the first focused on only American birds. Wilson drew most of the birds for the work himself and employed Alexander Lawson and John G. Warnicke for the engraving. Wilson died in 1813 and his friend George Ord made it to press. Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte (Napoleon’s nephew, who took refuge in America after his defeat, undertook the supplement to the work, which was completed in 1833.
Frank L. Burns, in his bibliography of Wilson, writing of the present edition, notes that it is “a reprint of Ord’s fine 1828-29 edition, with the interpolation of Baird’s Catalogue of North American Birds, reprinted from the 8vo edition of 1858, and the addition of Bonaparte’s work. The original plates of Wilson’s work were purchased at a cost of $1700, but as Bonaparte’s beautiful plates had been melted and sold for old copper, resource was made to photography and electrotyping to reproduce the latter.” (rank L. Burns, “Alexander Wilson. [Part] VII: Biographies, Portraits, and a Bibliography of the Various Editions of his Works”)