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Engraving with watercolour



300 mm x 440 mm


430 mm x 3570 mm




Rare 18th Century Hand coloured copper plate engraving on hand made rag paper

Rare Nests Eggs and Birds beautifully illustrated, drawn for engraving by Christian Sepp, Cornelius Nozeman and Martinus Houttuyn.   Some of the most famous naturalists of the 18th Century collaborated in producing one of the finest works ever done on Ornithology: Nederlandsche Vogelen. Also known as 'the Birds of the Netherlands'.   This is a beautifully hand coloured copper plate engraving of a European Jay Bird, dates from 1770-1829. 


This rare antique 18th Century Hand Coloured Copper Plate Engraving is on hand made rag paper. Ornithological depiction shows the bird with its nest and eggs.


Cornelius Nozeman, who lived from 1721 to 1786, was a Dutch minister & an ornithologist. It was Nozeman that wrote the text for the first two volumes of 'the Birds of the Netherlands'. In 1786, Nozeman died, with most of the descriptions for the second volume written, which was published in 1789.

The renowned engraver & artist Christian Sepp drew the illustrations. Sepp is best known for his meticulous drawings and his passion for beautiful detail which is evident in this work. The majority of Sepp’s drawings were transferred onto copper plates and etched and engraved by himself. It was in the first two volumes which were directly created by these well known ornithologists, artists and engravers. Sepp’s son, Jan Christian, a bookseller, interested in the study of natural history and engraving, published the first volume. In 1775, Christian Sepp died and Jan Christian completed the second volume.
Martinus Houttuyn, also a famous naturalist, continued the work for the third volume (published in 1797). Houttuyn died in 1798, and it was not until 1809 that the fourth volume was published, without the name of the writer.
The huge project was finally finished in 1829, by the grandson of Christian Sepp, Jan Sepp, and Coenraad Jacob Temminck.
This is the most important and first study in the Netherlands of ornithology at that time. The birds are depicted as they are in life, said to be depicted close to life sized and in their environment. This great work, is well known for the wonderful combinations of birds with their nests and eggs, some of the best ever done. The frontice pieces are some of the best examples of bird artwork ever done.
These are extra large, full folio, hand colored copper plate engravings, on fine hand made hand laid rag paper. At the time of production the cost of the set was 525 Dutch Florins, $6000 in today’s currency, the most expensive book ever published up to that time.


During the 1800's the time had come that living birds, animals and the vegetative world was of interest to everyone, everywhere. A revolutionary age where scientists and naturalists alike, were collecting specimens of every species they could identify. They all tried to observe their subjects in their natural environments. This required travel, everywhere and anywhere they could get to. While other scientists worked from one other’s work & special collections.These encyclopedic studies were mostly funded by big money from the wealthy businessmen, Doctors, Clergy, Noblemen & The Royal Family. Scientists were trying to explain & prove their hypotheses of the world, existence and evolution. Notations from observations and developing scientific evidence could help explain the world…

Their notations & illustrations, once transferred into books, could be used to educate, persuade, document. Subscribers went wild for the latest issue! Travel increased far and wide to visit public & private curiosities & to see the specimens brought back from far away places and rare natural history books and collections of printed material. People were discovering the natural world! Wild tales of dangerous exploring expeditions and written accounts kept like diaries, some with profuse illustrations, were of interest to everyone. The universal delivery, of all these recent discoveries and new information, was to publish readable material for the masses. Publishers went crazy and printed as much as they could produce, for all their new and demanding readers, oftentimes by subscription. Whereas much of all published from Mid Evil times through the mid 17th Century revolved around religious subject matter.Now the focus could be any subject, but the beauty of the natural world was in first place.This was done by publishing all kinds ephemera, catalogs, portfolios, periodicals and books.Many of which were beautifully illustrated with hand colored, lithographs and engravings.
Once readers would receive part of what they subscribed to, they demanded more! When a subscription was fulfilled, by the year or by subject, bookbinders bound the subscriptions into magnificent rare natural history books.