DIGGLES, Silvester (1817-1880). The Ornithology of Australia: being illustrations of two hundred and forty-four birds. By Silvester Diggles. Dedicated by permission to His Excellency Sir George Ferguson Bowen... first governor of Queensland. Queensland: printed by Thorne & Greenwill (late T.P. Pugh), [n.d. but circa 1875].
2° (364 x 260mm). Title printed in green and gold, preface dated 'May 1875'. 126 hand-coloured lithographic plates after Diggles, drawn on stone by H.G. Eaton, printed by Eaton & Wilson of Brisbane. (Most leaves somewhat browned or spotted, some plates shaved into image area [as usual], the 33rd, 36th, 46th, 75th, 77th and 117th plates more shaved with loss to the birds, lower outer blank corner of text leaf to the 74th plate torn away.) Contemporary green morocco gilt by Sapsford of Brisbane, covers elaborately panelled in gilt with bevelled edges, onlaid circular sunken roundels at corners and large central rectangular sunken panel, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and fourth, the other compartments with repeat decoration in gilt centering on a small circular onlay of red morocco, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, elaborately gilt and gauffered edges (expertly rebacked, old spine laid down).
FIRST EDITION, ?SECOND ISSUE, OF THIS IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN ORNITHOLOGICAL WORK. RARELY FOUND COMPLETE AS HERE AND IN A FINE BINDING FROM BRISBANE. According to Ferguson, Diggles first issued this work in 21 parts between 1866 and 1870, with 127 plates but no title, contents leaf or index. The present copy is an example of the second issue with 126 plates, a title, and the preface dated 1875. The work was re-issued in 1877 as Companion to Gould's Handbook; or, Synopsis of the Birds of Australia with either 123 plates (Zimmer p.171) or 126 plates (Ferguson 9148a). As the title to the second edition suggests, and as stated in the prospectus, Diggles's purpose in publishing this work was to provide an inexpensive work with coloured plates, since sets of Gould's Birds of Australia were 'so difficult to procure, and their price was so far beyond the means of any but the most wealthy'. An Englishman by birth, Diggles came to Australia in 1853, settled in Brisbane and established a reputation as a naturalist of note. The present work is his most important production with fine quality plates, with numerous references from Gould's 'parent' work as well as additional notes by Charles Coxen (Gould's brother-in-law) who was a friend of Diggles. Cf. BM(NH) I, p.462 (2nd edition); Ferguson 9148; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990) p.91; Nissen IVB 247; cf. Sauer p.199; Whittell 201; cf. Wood p.319; cf. Zimmer p.171 (2nd edition).