London, South Kensington
23 September 2010
BULLER, Walter Lawry, Sir (1838-1906). A History of the Birds of New Zealand. London: Taylor and Francis for John van Voorst, March 1872-December 1873. 4° (305 x 242mm). 2pp. prospectus and 6pp. list of subscribers at beginning, 4pp. of 'extracts from reviews' and 1p. prospectus for a 'proposed series of supplementary plates' at end. Tinted lithographic frontispiece depicting a skeleton of a Moa next to a Maori, 35 hand-coloured lithographic plates after and by John Gerrard Keulemans. (Frontispiece loose with edges frayed and chipped and dampstain to top left-hand corner, occasional light spotting, mainly affecting about six text-leaves.) Slightly later burgundy half morocco, top edge gilt (extremities rubbed, spine lightly faded, faint stain to upper cover).
FIRST EDITION OF A LIMITED EDITION OF ONLY 500 COPIES. 'It has been remarked by a celebrated naturalist that "New Zealand is the most interesting ornithological province in the world ... It has been the author's desire to collect and place on record a complete life-history of these birds before their final extirpation' (prospectus). Issued in five parts, the work was instantaneously successful, containing what are 'often quoted as being KEULEMANS' FINEST DRAWINGS' (C. Jackson Bird Illustrators p.88). RARE - a 'major and valuable work' (Ellis/Mengel). Cf. Anker 85; BM(NH) I, p.284; Ellis/Mengel 427; Nissen IVB 163; Wood p. 269; Zimmer p.114.
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