One of the dozen colour plates by Archibald Thorburn that illustrate a 1919, limited edition work on 'Birds of Prey' sold by Thomson Roddick at £6000.

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Shown here is one of the 12 signed coloured plates produced by Archibald Thorburn for a 1919, limited edition work called Birds of Prey. One of only 150 such copies and in a later red morocco binding, it sold at £6000.

Bid to £5500 at the May 19 sale was a copy of Sclater & Salvin’s Exotic Ornithology… New or Rare Species of American Birds, published by Quaritch in 1869. Illustrated with 100 hand-coloured litho plates, this work actually focuses only on what the authors called birds of the neotropical region - on the grounds that “No other part of the world can vie with Tropical America in the richness of its avifauna”.

Bound as 13 volumes from the original parts issue and retaining the wrappers, a fine set of Gregory M Mathews’ Birds of Australia was sold at £11,000.

Including some 100 species not included in Gould’s great work of the previous century, this profusely illustrated study of 1910-27 was one of the last major ornithological works to feature hand-coloured litho plates.

Two of the more highly estimated lots from this group of bird books, English and German language editions of Thomas Pennant’s British Zoology of the 1760s, a work in which most of the plates actually focus on birds, failed to sell.