ELLIOT, Daniel Giraud. A Monograph of the Phasianidae or Family of the Pheasants. New York: by the author, [1870-]1872.
2 volumes, folio (612 mm x 508 mm). 79 fine hand-colored lithographed plates after J. Wolf and J. Smit by J. G. Keulemans, colored by J. D. White, heightened with gum arabic, 2 uncolored lithographed plates of generic characters, list of subscribers, lists of plates. (Soft crease to title and first two leaves of vol. 1, clean tear across geographical distribution table, approx. ten plates with pales offsetting on to text, plates generally very fresh, colors vibrant.) Contemporary russet half morocco, pebbled cloth, gilt-lettered on spines (joints rubbed, some discreet restoration).
ELLIOT’S MASTERWORK, ‘THE EQUAL IN EVERY WAY TO ANY WORK BY GOULD’ (Fine Bird Books).
FIRST EDITION. Both Zimmer and Wood note that Elliot’s text in this work is probably the finest of his monographs. The plates by Wolf (to whom The Pheasants is dedicated) earn him "the same rank as Audubon and Edward Lear as a bird-painter" (Fine Bird Books). R.M. Mengel gave the work further praise, writing that “of the great nineteenth-century ornithological monographs, none save Audubon's is so sumptuous” (“Beauty and the Beast: Natural History and Art,” The Living Bird, 1979-1980).
The scale of the plates and their meticulous coloring gives them a magnificence which reflects the importance which Elliot attached to the Phasianidae. Of all the families in the ornithological system, he regarded it as the one most vital to the human race, “containing within it the species that afford food for thousands of mankind, and also those which are the original source of all the domestic poultry met with throughout the civilized world.” He generously dedicated the work 'To my friend Joseph Wolf... whose unrivalled talent has graced this work with its chief attraction, and whose marvellous power of delineating animal life renders him unequalled in our time'. The work was issued in 6 parts between June 1870 and October 1872. Ayer/Zimmer 206; Anker/Copenhagen 130; Fine Bird Books 74; McGill/Wood 331; Nissen, IVB 295.