This wonderful, hand-colored folio collotype is from Rex Brasher’s Birds and Trees of North America. The work was published in 1931 by Meriden Gravure Co. in the Chickadee Valley in Kent, Connecticut. This particular print comes from set #5 of the intended 500 of Brasher’s publication. The original illustrations were done by Rex Brasher, and the text was written by Brasher’s niece, Marie.
Birds & Trees of North America were published after Brasher’s paintings, which were originally done from 1895 to 1925. His paintings depicted 1200 species and subspecies of North American birds. Rex Brasher was a noted Connecticut wildlife artist. At age 10, his ambition was to draw all of the birds of North America.
Brasher spent 44 years chronicling the birds of North America and perfecting his art before beginning publication. He depicted birds in various states of development and plumage. The tree species and bird habitat depictions were also considered an important contribution to the field of natural history and ornithology.
Brasher became friends with the famous bird painter, Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Fuertes helped develoop Brasher’s artistic range and technique. Brasher completed all the hand-coloring, using airbrush and stencil, of the birds.
Brasher received an estimate of $500,000 to complete the color printing of this work, but it would not produce the accuracy he desired. He then made the decision to hand color all of the copies himself. He worked for 6 months and completed 100 copies of the first volume and realized to complete 500 copies in his lifetime would be near impossible. It is extremely rare to come across the Brasher prints from this 1931 publication.
Brasher originally had 95 subscribers for the work, but when the Great Depression hit he lost many patrons. Eventually the wealthiest of the time period subscribed to the work including William Boeing and Paul Mellon.
No other American ornithologist has come close to the achievement of Rex Brasher in bird illustration and detailing.