GOULD, John (1804-1881). The Birds of Great Britain. London: Taylor and Francis for the author, -1873.
25 parts bound in 5 volumes, large 2° (555 x 377mm). 5pp. list of subscribers, small 'to the Binder' leaf bound in list of plates in vol. I. 367 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates, most heightened with gum-arabic, by Gould, Henry Constantine Richter, Joseph Wolf and William Hart, printed by Walter or Walter & Cohn, 2 wood-engraved illustrations. (Title to vol. I with very small patch of abrasion and light marginal soiling, scattered light spotting mainly confined to text, beginning of introduction in vol. I more heavily affected, very small marginal tear to pl. 55 in vol. II.) Early 20th-century half blue leather by Christian of Eastbourne, gilt spines, top edges gilt, original printed wrappers to the parts cut-down and mounted and bound in at end of vol. V (extremities rubbed, joints more heavily, some discolouration due to damp to covers of several vols, original wrappers soiled).
'THE MOST SUMPTUOUS AND COSTLY OF BRITISH BIRD BOOKS' (Mullens and Swann). Gould was especially proud of this work, and it 'was seen - perhaps partly because its subject was British, as the culmination of [his] ... genius' (Isabella Tree, The Ruling Passion of John Gould, London: 1991, p.207). The text is, of course, longer than in any of his other works, and the illustrations, many of them prepared from freshly killed specimens, include many more depictions of chicks, nests and eggs. Wolf, who drew 57 of the plates, had accompanied Gould on an ornithological tour of Scandinavia in 1856, and was responsible for persuading Gould and Richter to adopt a livelier treatment of the illustrations. Sauer 23; Zimmer p.261; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.102; Wood p.365; Nissen IVB 372. (5)