"Razor Bill" Hand Colored Engraving by Prodeaux Shelby

This is a first edition hand-colored engraving of the Razor Bill from the original folio of Prodeaux Shelby’s Illustrations of British Ornithology, published between 1821-1834. This is the eighty-third plate in the folio, as indicated by the “Plate No. LXXXIII.” in the upper right corner.

Prideaux John Shelby was a Scotsman and talented artist that showed a keen interest in ornithology from an early age. Shelby made his own notes and careful, colored drawings of the birds in his district as a boy. His main interests were ornithology, forestry, and entomology, which culminated in his definitive publication, Illustrations of British Ornithology.

Illustrations of British Ornithology was published in nineteen parts between 1821 and 1834.  It contained some 222 plates, mostly after Shelby’s own drawings. Shelby engraved the plates with the assistance of his brother-in-law Admiral Robert Mitford. The plates, which were published in Edinburgh, were the first to depict British birds in actual size. His technique is said to have been partially inspired by fellow artist John James Audubon, from whom he received personal art lessons in 1826.


Very good condition. Exceptional detail and hand-coloration. Paper marked “LXXXIII.” “P. J. Shelby” signature disguised in image bottom center. Paper is healthy, with no signs of foxing or stains.

Beautifully presented in a custom-built wooden frame, using the finest archival materials and procedures.

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