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Bird, Art, British, Miller, Penguins, Cimelia Physica, Pair of Antique Prints, London, c. 1820s


John Frederick Miller (1759–1796) (artist and engraver)
Aptenodytes crestata [Southern Rockhopper Penguin]
Aptenodytes magellanica [Magellanic Penguin]

from Cimelia Physica: Figures of Rare and Curious Quadrupeds, Birds, &c.
London: 1796 (second edition, c. 1820s)
Hand-colored engravings
17.75 x 12 inches, plate mark
20.25 x 13.5 inches, overall
$1,900, the pair

A pair of early-19th-century natural history engravings of two species of penguins that breed in the Falkland Islands and the southern coasts of Chile and Argentina. Aptenodytes crestata (known today as Eudyptes chrysocome) is commonly known as the Southern Rockhopper penguin, and Aptenodytes magellanica (known today as Sphenicus magellanicus) is commonly known as the Magellanic penguin. Each is shown standing on a small patch of terrain. The prints are among the 41 ornithological subjects “coloured from the subjects themselves” by John Frederick Miller from Cimelia Physica, originally accompanied by text by scientist George Shaw. Cimelia Physica was first published in a very scarce first edition in 1796. Based on the paper watermark “J. WHATMAN TURKEY MILL 1822” on one of the prints offered here, these are from the second edition, which is also considerably rare, circa the 1820s.  Southern Rockhoppers are currently classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Product description continues below.


John Frederick Miller was a British 18th-century illustrator of botanical and zoological subjects who worked closely with the influential patron of scientific knowledge Sir Joseph Banks and had access to the zoological specimens that Banks constantly received during his 41 years as President of the Royal Society. Miller painted and etched these subjects, and probably colored the plates himself, too. Miller and his brother James were among the three artists who accompanied Banks on the first ever scientific expedition to Iceland in 1772, returning with hundreds of illustrations and specimens. Miller is also known for Cimelia Physica (London, 1796) which concentrated on ornithology but also contained important botanical illustrations, most of which were the first depictions of the species. 


Lotzof, Kerry. “Joseph Banks: scientist, explorer and botanist.” Natural History Museum, London. (12 June 2023).

“Magellanic Penguin.” International Penguin Conservation Work Group. (12 June 2023).

Nissen, Claus. Die Illustrierten Vogelbucher: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart: 1976. 638.

“Rockhopper Penguin.” International Penguin Conservation Work Group. (12 June 2023).

“Selections from the Fox Pointe Manor Library / Lot 209.” Sotheby’s. 26 October 2016. (12 June 2023).

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Fine Bird Books, 1700-1900. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990.  p.94

Stafleu, Frans A. and Richard S. Cowan. Taxonomic Literature. Utrecht: 1967. 2nd ed., Utrecht: 1976-1988. 6033.

Wood, Casey A. (ed.)  An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology Based Chiefly on the Titles in the Blacker Library of Zoology, the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology, the Bibliotheca Osleriana, and Other Libraries of McGill University, Montreal.  London: Humphry Milford, Oxford University Press, 1931. p. 465.

Zimmer, John Todd. Catalogue of the Edward E. Ayer Ornithological Library.  Zoological Series, Publ. 239-240, Vol. 16.  Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1926. p.585.

Additional information


18th C. Birds