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This collection, the first part of which was included in a Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) sale of March 6, was assembled by two English ornithologists and bibliophiles who started collecting in the 1970s – as a pastime that could be indulged while on their bird-watching holidays.

That pastime ended just last year with their purchase of Pat Morris’ Hedgehog, the 137th and then latest volume in the well-known New Naturalist series.

A Dresser History of the Birds of Europe, the eight volumes of a first edition set of 1871-82 in contemporary and matching half morocco bindings by Morrell, sold in South Cerney at £7000.

An 1881-87, three-volume first of ET Booth’s Rough Notes on the Birds observed during Twenty-Five Years’ Shooting and Collecting in the British Isles, illustrated with 114 handcoloured litho plates and focusing principally on specimens bagged in Scotland and on the Norfolk Broads, realised £3400.

A two-volume, 1907-10 first of Frederick Du Cane’s Monograph of the Petrels, illustrated with 106 coloured litho plates after JG Keulemans and in a later Zaehnsdorf binding, sold at £2700.

One of only 225 copies, this was, however, a set acquired at a 2013 Sotheby’s auction at more than double that sum – a record £5800.

Illustrated above are three other lots from the 72 that made up this first selection, all of which feature further examples of the illustrative work of Keulemans.

Original artworks

Running to just over 200 lots, an opening ornithology section was a major component of a February 27 sale held by Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) – though in this instance it was original artworks that were offered. The catalogue cover featured a detail from Barnacle Geese against a Stormy Sky, a 1939 oil on canvas by Sir Peter Scott that brought the section’s top price of £12,000 via thesaleroom.com.


A study of a glaucous gull by Archibald Thorburn that sold at Chiswick Auctions.

Other highlights included, at £4600, a watercolour and gouache study of a glaucous gull by Archibald Thorburn. This is a work that was reproduced in Vol IV of his British Birds of 1925-26.

Dated 1917, a Thorburn study of a sparrowhawk, again executed in watercolours and gouache, made £2400 from an online bid.