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Johannes Zainer, 'Von dem Rappen und Pfawen' (The Jackdaw and the Peacocks), wood-cut illustration from 'Vita Aesopi fabulatoris', 1479. National Art Library Pressmark: 86.B.2

Johannes Zainer, 'Von dem Rappen und Pfawen' (The Jackdaw and the Peacocks), wood-cut illustration from 'Vita Aesopi fabulatoris', 1479. National Art Library Pressmark: 86.B.2

The National Art Library has a large collection of illustrated Aesop's Fables dating from the 15th century to the present day. The following extract is taken from The Fables of Aesop by Joseph Jacobs (London: Macmillan & Co., 1894),  accompanied by a selection of images from the Library's collection.

'A Jay venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there a number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the Peacocks.

When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. So the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had watched his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed with him, and told him:
"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds."'

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