7 - 8 April 2004
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° (315 x 245mm). 2pp. prospectus, 6pp. list of subscribers, 4pp. of 'extracts from reviews', 1p. prospectus for a 'proposed series of supplementary plates. Tinted lithographic frontispiece by G.H. Ford after A.C. Barker, printed by Mintern Bros., 35 FINE HAND-COLOURED LITHOGRAPHIC PLATES after John Gerrard Keulemans, many drawn on stone by Keulemans. (Unobtrusive spotting to about six plates.) Publisher's calf gilt, covers with outer border tooled in gilt and blind, the upper cover with a large blocked design of a Takahe (a reversed version of the plates facing p.189), spine in six compartments with raised bands, green morocco lettering-piece in the second compartment, the others with simple repeat decoration in gilt and black, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, g.e. (light scuffing to extremities).
FIRST EDITION OF A 'MAJOR AND VALUABLE WORK' (Ellis/Mengel) CONTAINING WHAT ARE 'OFTEN QUOTED AS BEING KEULEMANS' FINEST DRAWINGS' (C. Jackson Bird Illustrators p.88). 'Only 500 copies of this edition were issued' (Anker). 'It has been remarked by a celebrated naturalist that "New Zealand is the most interesting ornithological province in the world:"... apart from [the large number of colossal extinct flightless birds]... the avifauna of New Zealand presents many special features of considerable interest. A large proportion of the genera are peculiar to the country; while some of the forms... [are] entirely without parallel in any other part of the world. Under the changed physical conditions of the country... some of these remarkable forms have already become almost, if not quite, extinct, and others are fast expiring. It has been the author's desire to collect and place on record a complete life-history of these birds before their final extirpation shall have rendered such a task impossible' (prospectus). The work was issued in five parts between January 1872 and April 1873. The limited publication and the considerable success of Buller's work quickly made copies of the first edition rare and expensive. He followed up this first edition with a second (with the plates of the first edition re-drawn and 15 plates added) in 1887-1888 and a supplement containing 12 plates was published in 1905. Cf. Anker 85; BM(NH) I, p.284; Ellis/Mengel 427; Nissen IVB 163; Wood p. 269; Zimmer p.114.
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