Rare book of the month: Studer’s popular ornithology: the birds of North America

This month’s rare book of the month is dedicated to our bird watching readers and anyone who enjoys beautiful bird illustrations. Studer’s Popular Ornithology, published in 1881, proved very popular due to its full colour illustrations and affordability in comparison to other similar works from the time. Ornithological studies have a long history, but the scientific study of birds increased following the 1859 publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Birkhead et al. estimate that over 380,000 ornithological publications have been produced since the Origin came out.¹

Jacob Studer was a printer, lithographer, and ornithologist based in Ohio in the latter half of the 1800s. The chromolithographs in Studer’s Popular Ornithology were based on paintings by Theodore Jasper, a physician with a keen interest in ornithology. The birds are depicted in their natural habitats, and each one is accompanied by a text written by Studer that describes their notable characteristics and behaviours.

Our copy of Studer’s Popular Ornithology can be found in our rare books collection and may be consulted by request Monday-Fridays from 9-5.

Jasper, Theodore, and Jacob H. Studer. 1881. Studer’s popular ornithology: upwards of seven hundred different species and varieties … are represented on one hundred and nineteen crayon plates … by Theodore Jasper ; including a letter press devoted to giving a popular account of their habits and characteristics. New York: J.H. Studer.



¹Birkhead, Tim, Jo Wimpenny, and Bob Montgomerie. Ten Thousand Birds. Princeton University Press, 2014. http://go.utlib.ca/cat/9904140

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