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Vintage book - question for book collectors

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Old Monday 13th September 2010, 23:42   #1
giankun
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Vintage book - question for book collectors

Good morning to everyone!

I was recently given as a gift a vintage bird book from America. The title is Birds of America, the editor is Gilbert T. Pearson, and the book contains color plates by Louis Agassiz Fuertes. The texts are also interesting as some of them were written by John Burroughs. The book was printed in 1936 by Garden City Publishing, but the original copyright is from 1917. The book lost the dust cover, and has a brown cover with geese in flight engraved on the front.

Well, now I have some questions about this book, and what exactly is from when. I have read some of the text and looked at the pictures, and noticed that most if not all of the text is from 1917 and was not updated (Great Depression?). For example the Heath Hen is listed as safe in Martha's Vineyard, but it actually got extinct on 1932. Yet what impresses me is that some of the pictures look quite modern to be 1917 pictures (but then again I am not an historian of photography so...)... So well, my question for who knows the book (or has seen both the edition I have and the original 1917 one) is: what was exactly changed from the original book and the later edition? Are the pics really from 1917 (if so, quite impressed)?

Well, thank you in advance,

Gian Andrea
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Old Saturday 6th November 2010, 21:33   #2
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Hi again, anyone has info on this book?
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Old Sunday 7th November 2010, 20:10   #3
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Sorry that I can't really tell you anything that you actually want to know, as I am not familiar with this book in either of its editions, but...

Louis Agassiz Fuertes was one of the first truly great bird artists, in my opinion (although some have recently criticised my ideas on bird art, so perhaps best to take that with a pinch of salt). Like others he painted from specimens of course, but he also went to the field and collected himself. In his day, he was thought of as the leading American bird artist. I have a fantastic print of a Turquoise-browed Motmot by him, as well as many of the early works by Frank Chapman, which featured plates by Fuertes.

Fuertes died prematurely, at the age of 53, killed when a train ran into his car at a crossing, in August 1927.
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Old Sunday 7th November 2010, 21:42   #4
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Louis Agassiz Fuertes was one of the first truly great bird artists, in my opinion (although some have recently criticised my ideas on bird art, so perhaps best to take that with a pinch of salt).
No mate, this time , you are right, one of the finest!
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Old Sunday 7th November 2010, 23:52   #5
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The book has been reprinted without any changes many times since the 1936 edition. My copy was printed ca 1959.

Most, and I believe all, of the text dates to the 1917 edition. So also do the color plates, and the b/w photos by Finley, Bohlman, and Middleton. The other b/w photos date from varous times between 1917 and 1936, probably more towards the latter date. The drawings by R. L. Brasher and R. Bruce Horsfall were commisioned for the 1936 edition.

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Old Monday 8th November 2010, 15:57   #6
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As to printing date, it's not indicated in the book. I know the approximate date for mine based on when I bought it (As new, in a book store in 1960) and that it still smelled of printer's ink at the time.

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Old Monday 8th November 2010, 19:28   #7
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No mate, this time , you are right, one of the finest!
Seconded.

I'm lucky enough to have a copy of "A Celebration of Birds - the Life and Art of LAF" by Robert Peck. It is a nice bio and has some mouthwatering plates.

Cheers
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Old Monday 15th November 2010, 23:18   #8
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Thank you very much for the replies! Well, I had assumed that the edition was from the same date as the printing, but it appears it is not so (I looked and looked at my book and could not find a print date, so it means it's impossible to say from when the book is!).

Anyway now I have an idea of what was added in 1936 and what was original from 1917 and it's nice. Some of the pictures are impressive if you imagine how old they are, the text also, is very interesting as it has some details and curiosities which would not be in a nature book today (I just read the shrikes part).

By the way about Agassiz Fuertes, I agree the plates are wonderful: I think I will look for more books with his art or maybe prints.
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Old Tuesday 16th November 2010, 09:11   #9
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Thank you very much for the replies! ......
Good thing you brought this up again. Sometimes, a post gets "lost" simply because those who might be able to contribute pertinent info don't see it or don't have time to reply.

You might have had more success from the beginning if you had chosen a less general title for the thread.

Anyway, the answers here have motivated me to search for the art of Fuertes. I basically just know his name.
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Old Thursday 25th November 2010, 00:07   #10
giankun
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Good thing you brought this up again. Sometimes, a post gets "lost" simply because those who might be able to contribute pertinent info don't see it or don't have time to reply.

You might have had more success from the beginning if you had chosen a less general title for the thread.

Anyway, the answers here have motivated me to search for the art of Fuertes. I basically just know his name.
Yes, well it's a good thing I "upped" this thread, anyway I am amazed and amazed by the ability to find info about everything on Internet. I too, discovered Fuertes by chance, thanks to this book I received as a gift, and then found another couple books I will look for when I can, one of which contains a prefaction by Peterson, who apparently loved Fuertes' work. All those connections where so much more difficult - or so much slower at least - in the times before the net.
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