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Lot 0128
Birds of Asia. John Gould (1804-1881). London: Taylor and Francis for the Author, 1850-83. Physical Description: 7 volumes. Folio (21 5/8 x 14 1/2 inches). 530 hand-colored lithographs after John Gould, H.C. Richter, Josef Wolf and W. Hart. Contemporary half green morocco, all edges gilt, spine gilt, 7 compartments with 6 raised bands (vol 1, front marbled endpaper detached, vol. 4 front marbled endpaper loose. vol. 5 front marbled endpaper loose). First edition, originally issued in 35 parts, the last three being issued after Gould’s death by Sharpe, and published over more than thirty years. The Birds of Asia, dedicated to the Honourable East India Company, followed easily from Gould’s first monograph on the birds of the Himalayas. That it took more than thirty years to publish, at the rate of one part per year, is testament to Gould’s dedication to bringing to the attention of the public extraordinary and exotic birds from the furthest reaches of the globe. It was the most comprehensive study of Asiatic birds of its time, illustrating birds from an enormous area, which included Siberia, Turkestan, Central Asia, Southwest Asia, the Caucasus, Persia, Afghanistan, China, India, and the Malayan Peninsular, and includes birds as disparate as parrots, pheasants, kingfishers, and woodpeckers. Initially employed as a taxidermist [he was known as the ‘bird-stuffer’] by the Zoological Society, Gould’s fascination with birds from the east began in the “late 1820s [when] a collection of birds from the Himalayan mountains arrived at the Society’s museum and Gould conceived the idea of publishing a volume of imperial folio sized hand-colored lithographs of the eighty species, with figures of a hundred birds (A Century of Birds Hitherto Unfigured from the Himalaya Mountains, 1830-32). Gould’s friend and mentor N. A. Vigors supplied the text. Elizabeth Gould made the drawings and transferred them to the large lithographic stones. Having failed to find a publisher, Gould undertook to publish the work himself; it appeared in twenty monthly parts, four plates to a part, and was completed ahead of schedule. “With this volume Gould initiated a format of publishing that he was to continue for the next fifty years, although for future works he was to write his own text. Eventually fifty imperial folio volumes were published on the birds of the world, except Africa, and on the mammals of Australia-he always had a number of works in progress at the same time. Several smaller volumes, the majority not illustrated, were published, and he also presented more than 300 scientific papers. “His hand-colored lithographic plates, more than 3300 in total, are called ‘Gould plates’. Although he did not paint the final illustrations, this description is largely correct: he was the collector (especially in Australia) or purchaser of the specimens, the taxonomist, the publisher, the agent, and the distributor of the parts or volumes. He never claimed he was the artist for these plates, but repeatedly wrote of the ‘rough sketches’ he made from which, with reference to the specimens, his artists painted the finished drawings. The design and natural arrangement of the birds on the plates was due to the genius of John Gould, and a Gould plate has a distinctive beauty and quality. His wife was his first artist. She was followed by Edward Lear, Henry Constantine Richter, William Matthew Hart, and Joseph Wolf” (Gordon C. Sauer for DNB). Anker 178; “Fine Bird Books” (1990) p. 102; Nissen 368; Sauer 17; Wood p. 365; Zimmer pp 258-9. Guidance: Christie’s, 1999 - $126,887

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Birds of Asia, Gould, First Edition, Rare Book

Estimate $80,000 - $130,000Mar 25, 2017