Recent Acquisitions

Merriam, Florence A. | Birds Through an Opera-Glass

  • First edition, the Chautaqua Press issue with their imprint on the title page.

    Florence Merriam Bailey (1863-1948) was encouraged in scientific pursuits by her family and then attended Smith College, where she “became interested in ornithology, established a chapter of the Audubon Society, and began to publish articles in the Audubon Magazine” (Ogilvie, Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, p. 69). These articles were collected to form the nucleus of Birds Through an Opera-Glass, her first book, written to “provide hints to laypersons on bird identification” (Ogilvie).

    After spending three years in the American Southwest, she moved to Washington D.C. and married the naturalist Vernon Bailey, with whom she had a “symbiotic collaborative marriage: he was interested in mammals, reptiles, and plants, whereas she was interested in birds. The couple spent the next thirty springs and summers in the West collecting for the U.S. Biological Survey”, writing books on their findings during the remainder of the year (Ogilvie). Among her key books are the comprehensive account of the birds of the Southwest, Birds of New Mexico.

    This issue of Birds Through an Opera-Glass was published jointly by the original publishers, Houghton, Mifflin, and the Chautaqua Press, the publishing arm of the popular educational summer camps for adults which had been founded in 1874. All issues of the first edition are rare, particularly in such nice condition.

  • Cleveland, OH & Cambridge, MA: The Chautaqua Press & Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.

    Octavo. Original brown cloth, titles and border to upper board locked in black, titles to spine gilt. Minor bumps to edges of upper board, lightly rubbed at the tips, small spot on page 185. An excellent copy.