I could look at these vintage hand-colored book plates all day. Every one has something special. Sure, this one is about birds that we often take for granted. But, really, when’s the last time you studied a chicken? There are so many different species and they come in so many different color combinations. This Malay chickens illustration is over 160 years old and yet, it has been digitized and shared via modern technology.
The book that this and a number of other wonderful bird illustrations came from has a long-winded title for sure. A practical treatise on breeding, rearing, and fattening all kinds of domestic poultry, pheasants, pigeons, and rabbits : also, the management of swine, milch cows, and bees, with instructions for the private brewery on cider, perry, and British wine making also has numerous black and white and color illustrations that I will be posting here on Reusable Art. Sadly, only the author is identified. John Lawrence (1753-1839) did not live to see this 8th edition of his work published in 1842 but I suspect he would have been happy with the high quality engravings and illustrations it contained.
This colored drawing shows a cock and hen. The male is larger and his feathers are more of a solid black color. The artist did put a bit of blue here and there so perhaps their feathers are iridescent. It is however, his tail that is his most striking feature. The female, in my mind, is the prettier of the pair. Her feathers are multicolored with bits of brown, gray and rust. Her tail is a bit stubby but somehow that adds to her charm. These birds are known for long necks, long legs and big eggs.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.