GOULD, John (1804-1881). [The Birds of Australia, and the Adjacent Islands. London: Richard and John E.Taylor for the Author, 1837-1838].
2 original parts bound in one volume, large 2° (559 x 377mm). 20 hand-coloured lithographic plates, 1 by Edward Lear, 1 after Lear by Elizabeth Gould, 18 by and after the Goulds, all printed by Charles Hullmandel, each with accompanying leaf with single page of text. (6 plates torn, one detached with significant loss, others with spotting and light offsetting, 13 plates with small holes in lower margins.) Near-contemporary red half morocco gilt, original upper wrapper from part I backed and bound-in (extremities scuffed). Provenance: CHARLES STURT (1795-1869, Australian explorer, by descent).
FIRST EDITION OF THE RAREST OF ALL GOULD'S WORKS, WITH AN EVOCATIVE PROVENANCE, possibly presented by Gould to Sturt. Gould is known to have taken both the present work and his Synopsis... with him to Australia as samples (see p.107 Sauer, quoting letter from Gould to his wife). These would have been used both to encourage future subscriptions and as presents to those who proved useful or helpful to the Goulds. Charles Sturt fits both these categories: in his capacity as Surveyor-General he spent some time in June 1839 travelling with Gould into the Murray Scrubs; he also supplied specimens for the 8-volume Birds of Australia, and he is quoted by Gould in his Mammals of Australia. From the correspondence outlined in Sauer (pp.216-217) it is clear that Sturt subscribed to Gould's Birds of Europe, and probably to both the Macropodidae and the 8-volume Birds of Australia, although it is probable that his later financial difficulties prevented him from completing the subscriptions.
In the mid-1830s Gould was looking for a subject to cover to continue the momentum created by his earlier works. His interest was aroused by a series of specimens mainly supplied by his wife's emigrant brothers from Australia, and the present work was initiated. Gould quickly discovered that the only way the work was going to succeed was if he were to visit Australia personally, and in May 1838 both he and his wife left on what was to be a two year journey. On his return he announced his intention to re-start the publication from scratch, and requested subscribers to return the two parts of the present work, as he explained in a 2 July 1841 letter to Sir William Jardine, "The two former parts of the work are received back from subscribers and the price allowed off the new series, such plates only then again worked into the publication as are accurately drawn" (quoted in Sauer p.36). Nine of the 20 plates were included in the later work.
Sauer (p.36) also quotes an interesting letter to Lord Derby, 5 February, 1844, which says much for Gould's self-belief, as well as his bibliographical prescience: "the few copies [of the present work] in the hands of the Public... will some day be of value, though it is true, more to the Book-Collector, than the Naturalist".
Zimmer p.253; Fine Bird Books p.77; Wood p.364; Nissen IVB 369; Sauer 6.