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"A collection of original drawings illustrating the ornithology of the Orientals"

Call Number: MS Q14


Collection of 190 pictures of birds in watercolor, pen, and pencil, by several artists, as well as 2 title pages, board, and spine. Includes birds found in Australia, India, and New Guinea.


  • Creation: After 1801?

Language of Materials

Arabic captions on some, later pencil notes of identification in English; most with later captions in Latin or English.

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.


4.5 Linear Feet (190 drawings in 3 oversize boxes) : Binding: Received in bound condition, which was not the collection's original state: 2 volumes, cased in heavy red morocco with gilt panelling, ornate spine. Plainly 19th century; perhaps circa 1830? Title from binding. Unsigned. Material: Drawings on paper. Watermarks: Some are on laid paper, some on wove. Watermarks noticed include Whatman and other English firms. A few watermarks include year-dates in the 1790s; item 94's year-date is 1801. The paper appears to be of Western quality. ; varied sizes, approximately 41 x 27 cm; with matting 46.3 x 33.1 cm.

Scope and Contents

The drawings are not obviously "Oriental," although 22 of them have Arabic captions. Most are delicately done but a few are not. The birds seem to be from India, Australia, New Guinea, etc., but some are common European birds. Background tends to be minimal; occasionally leaves are portrayed delicately.

Most drawings are marked in pencil with a number in the upper right corner and an identification of the bird in English and/or Latin. The identification is a scribble and apparently often guess-work. Occasionally a comment such as "wrong feet" or "made up" has been added. As many as 3 sets of these identifications may appear on a drawing or its mounting, usually partly erased.

Volume 1 consists of title-page and drawings 1-100, interleaved with thick wove paper; volume 2 of title-page and drawings 101-190, interleaved with thick wove paper. These items have all been removed from the volumes and are individually foldered. Most drawings have been guarded: set into new margins. A few have been mounted directly onto thick wove paper.

Spelling errors have not been corrected, but the hand may well have been misread. The use of [?] indicates grave doubt and a [.] indicates an illegible letter in the pdf item-level inventory.

Physical Location

MS Q14

Other Finding Aids

See the attached for a detailed list by numbered item:

Custodial History

Was own by the Long Island Historical Society, 4079-4080.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Ralph Ellis.

Guide to a Collection of Ornithological Drawings
"A collection of original drawings illustrating the ornithology of the Orientals"
Finding aid prepared by alh, August 19, 1977. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2005. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2019.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
A collection of original drawings illustrating the ornithology of the Orientals, Department of Special Collections, MS Q14, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States